What will work for our media - Carrot or stick?

[This is the 7th post in a series that I am writing in the run up to Goa Thinkfest organized by Tehelka]
“Supreme Court Judge says that her daughters are liabilities”. 

This is what a respected judge of the Supreme Court, while declaring her assets and liabilities said, or at least a leading newspaper thought she said. Markandey Katju, retired judge of the Supreme Court of India and now the Chairman of Press Council of India cited this example in a speech at a get-together with mediapersons at his residence in New Delhi. The speech is available on The Hindu and is definitely something to read.

While ending his speech, Mr Katju, talked about the two paths facing the media today
There are two ways to remove these defects in the media. One is the democratic way, that is, through discussions, consultations and persuasion — which is the method I prefer. The other way is by using harsh measures against the media, for example, by imposing heavy fines on defaulters, stopping government advertisements to them, suspending their licences, and so on.
He cited his preference for the former and going for the latter only if self-regulatory methods fail to deliver. In his speech, he talked about the media's propensity to sensationalize issues, cover events which are trivial at best (he mentioned Aishwarya Rai's baby shower as an example), sidelining the real issues and taking money to create favorable news, a la paid news.

But do you think self-regulation will work for the corporatised media which has tasted the blood of TRPs. Can a baby raised on the milk of Bollywood, Cricket, Reality Shows wean itself away and become Shiva - ready to drink the poison that is human rights, poverty, naxalism, a lopsided development agenda, environmental degradation. I hope it does because even though the stick works it is not as effective when used in a democracy. What do you think?

I think this is an important question that speakers from the media and members of the civil society should devote time to when they talk.

Will the real journalists please stand up and with them, raise the level of debate in our society?

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