Paul Beckett at The Wall Street Journal in his article writes about the regional press demanding money from Ajay Goyal, an independent candidate contesting from Chandigarh parliamentary seat. While the political class have done it’s bit to malign democracy the (corrupt) press seems to be catching up.
To quote from the article:
So far, he says, he’s been approached by about 10 people – some brokers and public relations managers acting on behalf of newspaper owners, some reporters and editors – with the message that he’ll only get written about in the news pages for a fee. We’re not talking advertising; we’re talking news.
One broker offered three weeks of coverage in four newspapers for 10 lakh rupees ($20,000). A reporter and a photographer from a Chandigarh newspaper told him that for 1.5 lakh rupees ($3,000) for them and a further 3 lakh rupees ($6,000) for other reporters, they could guarantee coverage in up to five newspapers for two weeks.
"We would do good coverage for you," he says they told him. All of those who approached him either were from national Hindi language papers or regional papers, Mr. Goyal says.
Regional media has become a potent tool. With their vast reach among the small towns and villages, they have a power to build or tilt an opinion. The shameful aspect is, it is being offered by asking money. Not only the regional media, the English media also do this overtly or covertly. Salil Tripathi writes about Private Treaties, an entity formed by The Times group (TOI). It trades advertising for equity in companies.
Media has become a sort of circus now. To quote from the article above, it is the readers who need to be informed of exactly what it is that they are reading and why? Once that is lost, it is very hard to get the trust back.