INDIA: Famous Justice Stirs the Media Pot

Press Council of India (PCI) Chairman, Justice Maskeney Katju, recently made statements condemning the Indian media as well as Indian journalists. Such strong sentiments coming from the PCI chief are sparking varied reactions.
In recent outspoken statements, Katju criticized the Indian media for dividing the people on religious lines, promoting superstition, and for diverting the attention of the people from real problems like unemployment, poverty, and poor healthcare.  Instead, he complained, the media devotes most of its coverage to non-issues like the lives of film stars, fashion parades, pop music videos, disco dancing, astrology, cricket, reality shows, etc.
Katju goes on to directly criticize journalists themselves, describing Indian media professionals as being of “low intellectual caliber” and having, “poor knowledge of economics, history, politics, literature, and philosophy,” with seemingly no desire to serve the public interest.
These remarks have been met with criticism and opposition from many media organizations, including the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA), and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to name a few. Some, like the IFJ, welcome the introspection brought by Katju’s views, but express their disappointment with his, “aggressive and rather disparaging” tone.  However, other organizations, like the INS, believe that Katju’s statements are out of line and undermine his position in the PCI. In a public statement, the INS said, “By stating that he has a poor opinion of most media people, Justice Katju has demonstrated a deep bias against members of the fourth estate and INS apprehends that such bias will adversely affect the functioning of the council especially in its quasijudicial role as a media watchdog.”
Nonetheless, not all responses to Katju’s remarks have been negative. The PCI chief’s claims have received vast support from online blogs and commentators. Individuals have also been speaking up, such as former journalist V.K. Varadarajn as well as Dr. Rashmi Sharma.

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