Almost every recent election in India has featured allegations of paid news, and also the latest round of assembly polls was no exception. Paid news, which refers to the practice of publishing and circulating paid content as news content, is probably the foremost evident approach within which media houses distort the working of a democracy, however, there are many different ways within which they tilt and slant public discourse in a country. While there has been plenty of debate on paid news and also the role of vested interests in recent years, together with parliamentary committee report on the subject, there is as of yet no accord on how to cope with the matter.
Will the forces of pressure lead to removing biases and corruption within the news business over the long run? It might be instructive to look at lessons from political economy and history to answer this question. The history of paid news is almost as recent as the news itself. In the nineteenth century, newspapers within the North American country used to publish “reading notices”, that were advertisements conferred as news. Barring a couple of upright owners and editors, most newspapers were happy to run promoting campaigns disguised as news articles. These form of news looked almost synonymous to an actual news approach.
While until recently most Indian newspapers and media homes used to keep all their political alliances and bias beneath wraps; with the arrival of corporate media run by political parties and also the global economic recession, most Indian media houses have brazenly started accepting cash to write down articles.
And its share of pros and cons. While some argue that it’s sensible for the media houses and also the political parties, making it a win-win scenario. It also becomes biased and dishonest in a way. To cite an example, if a political organization intends to use media as its tool. It approaches them with countless money, their plan of action, and also holds conferences to debate how to run the entire operation. Then the media house takes the mandatory actions like praising the organization/leader, making sure the opposition does not get enough coverage, issue bad publicity for the opposition, carry articles that do not clearly praise the party/leader but have small areas where they try and create an environment where the party gets leverage.
But this is only for secretive/under wraps operations and tends to be unethical because it supports the political party but doesn’t say so brazenly.
If media houses overtly allow paid articles, they clearly state that the articles are written by people who are supporters of that specific organization. ensuring the ethics of journalism are maintained. This also ensures that though the newspaper/media has published the article, the newspaper company directly has no allegiance towards the particular organization. This approach is used by media houses just for its financial values.