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Divided stand thwarts media objectives

Indian ethnic media came under scrutiny with hard talk on its state of affairs at the Fourth Hindu Conference held on May 12 in Auckland.

There were complaints of a lack of cooperation and unhealthy competition.

A delegate said, “If all Indian media owners were locked in a room, they would end up killing each other. Such animosity, bad blood and unhealthy competition are not doing any good to Indian journalism in New Zealand.”

Another delegate asked, “Where is professional journalism?” and was critical that most of those in the Indian media were bereft of qualified journalists and journalism. They were mere moneymaking businesses, indulging in “copy and cut-and-paste journalism.”

The session on ‘Serving Community through Media’ opened frank and open discussion. Dev Nadkarni and the Editor of this newspaper were true to the adage that ‘the role of the media is to tell the truth.’

They agreed that ethnic Indian media left a great deal to be desired.

Declining reputation

The Editor said that with the fall of the Murdoch Empire from grace, media’s reputation had taken a big dent.

“We witness falling standards of reporting, editing and publishing. We suffer from poverty of morality, scandals and Cheque Book Journalism,” he said, adding that some mainstream media would pay huge sums to cover celebrity weddings.

He said that the approach of Indian ethnic media varied; for some it was weekend hobby, for others it was a monthly bonanza.

“For those in true journalism, it is a constant battle for survival. There is no unity and consequently no combined efforts in taking a united stand on any community issue. Unhealthy practices, unhealthy competition and a lack of investigative journalism are the bane of this sector in New Zealand,” he said.

He also said the Indian media had a tendency hide failures and overstate achievements. This was from the fact that media had more chances to make money from happy and satisfied people. Journalism is almost non-existent because, there are journalists who copy and there are newspapers that run more advertorials than news stories.”

The yawning gap

Mr Nadkarni spoke about the gap between Indian and mainstream media.

“The tendency is to blame the mainstream media. It takes two to create a gap and it is not often that we look at our own selves to see what could be wrong at our end,” he said.

He said it was normal for the mainstream society and mainstream media to look at ethnic communities as insular while, the Kiwi Indian community also suffered from the perception in some sections of the mainstream as being hopelessly divided.

Mr Nadkarni was critical of Indians who had made a conscious and voluntary choice of making New Zealand their home and yet were at the forefront of creating cultural ghettos.

“Why not look at expanding our cultural offering into the mainstream?” he asked, and added, “After all, the political systems and politicians here are open to change and inclusiveness and diversity. Why not try to merge first rather than create a separate system while reaping the benefits of the mainstream system?”

Mr Nadkarni threw a gauntlet on the Indian media to work together and bridge the gap between the Indian media and the mainstream media with an innovative programme.

“Just as we need to bridge the mainstream gap, we first need to bridge the gaps that prevent us from working together,” he said.

Thakur Ranjit Singh is a regular contributor to Indian Newslink, commenting on current affairs and community issues. He chaired the session on ‘Serving community through media’ at the Hindu Conference held on May 12, 2012. His report appeared in our June 1, 2012 issue. E-mail: thakurji@xtra.co.nz

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