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Monday , January 30 , 2012
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Jury out on trial by media

Points and counterpoints flew thick and fast at the hour-long debate on whether media conducts trials at Calcutta Literary Meet, in association with The Telegraph, on Saturday evening.

On the dais in the packed UBI auditorium at Milan Mela were politicians Dinesh Trivedi and Omar Abdullah and journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Vinod Mehta.

“I wonder whether we see news channels or views channels… the media writes the FIR, they are the prosecutor and the judge too,” said railway minister Trivedi.

Mehta linked the excesses of the media to the failures of the other three estates of democracy. “In India, the media is often forced to overreach its duty,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Abdullah demanded stronger libel laws. “Be the prosecutor but don’t be the judge. We don’t want you to stop investigating,” he said.

Sardesai termed the media a beast that the politicians are finding difficult to control. “My job is to constantly question you. If that troubles you, then I am sorry…. In the Doordarshan days, people saw politicians on TV cutting ribbons and not taking any aggressive questions. The beast has changed but not the politicians,” he said.