Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Is Paid News a threat to our democracy ?

When 'news' is published in favour of a particular politician or a political party through sale of editorial space, the 'paid news' phenomenon becomes even more pernicious. Innumerable complementary 'news' reports and feature articles on representatives of political parties, including candidates who have been contesting elections, appear in newspapers and are broadcast on television channels across the country in the run-up to the 2014 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the state legislative assembly elections. No disclosure is made that money is exchanged between the concerned candidate or political party to which she or he belongs and the owners or representatives of media organisations before such 'news' is printed or broadcast.

This is obviously ill-gotten black money or slush money earned through corruption in awarding government contracts, smuggling, crime, arms trade, arms deals, kickbacks on arms deals that compromise national security interests and sub-standard ships repeatedly break down in high sea en route from rusty Russian ports to rusty Indian ports without a single shot being fired by the Pakistanis or the Chinese who must be rubbing their hands in glee !!!

Black money is generated in almost all land, real estate and property deals in India where transactions are registered at 60 to 80% of the real value of the transaction. Once some of this black money finds its way into the pockets of media barons in return for subverting the news, we have effectively neutered the fourth pillar of our democracy...