Media matters: #1

In a wide-ranging interview to Scroll, politician/entrepreneur Rajeev Chandrasekhar touched on his various media investments and their respective slants:

“I’m an investor and editors of our channel run the channel,” Chandrasekhar said. “I’ve been told my Kerala channel, Asianet News, has a leftist point of view. That’s the journalists of that product. The Kannada channel has a different point of view, an anti-establishment point of view, whoever the establishment is. Republic has a different point of view, and people have accused it of being pro-BJP, mouthpiece of the BJP. That is for the editor to explain. It’s not for the shareholder to explain.”

He then goes way out on a fragile limb when he argues that the only measure of media credibility is the size of the audience:

“For us, it’s about looking at building brands that are credible,” he said. “Credible is important from the size of the audience, and that the audience believes in it. That is the only measure of it. What is the other measure? I don’t want to slip into this easy trap of having three people decide what is credible…Large audience will only come if they believe in that brand. There is no way you can be a compromised brand, and a brand lacking credibility, and at the same time have a large number of people following you.”

You could, as I do, disagree with almost every word of that argument. #1. To watch something and to believe in it are not the same. #2. The role of the editor is not to “decide what is credible”, it never was — that bit is Chandrasekhar setting up a convenient strawman to smack down. Her role is to decide what, among the thousands of items of news that pour in from sources, over the wires, from correspondents in the field, from governmental and private agencies, merits the time of the viewer/reader.

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