Uncultured Conduct in a Hall of Culture: Whither Media Responsibility?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

With ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ buried under the dust of time, a handful of new entrants to electronic media made a farce of press privileges in a cultural event at Rabindra Mandap in the evening of August 10 by resorting to cat calls when the audience was hearing veteran singer Subha Mudgal with rapt attention.

Senior scribe Kedar Mishra urged upon them not to disturb the listeners. He was pooh-poohed.

In a communication Kedar babu has thus narrated the incident:

Sitting in the press gallery today I was carefully listening to veteran singer Subha Mudgal in Ravindra Mandap and constantly got disturbed by three gentleman sitting just in front of me. They talked, laughed and mimicked the singer so loudly that every one in the auditorium got disturbed. Being a fellow journalist, I politely requested them to keep quite. Instead of listening to me they wanted to say me that I have no business to caution them. They are press people and can do whatever they want to do. I told them that I also belong to the same community and this is not fair to shout in a classical show.

None of them cared for my words; rather they become more irritating.

I phoned their concerned news editor and  informed about the irresponsible conduct of persons representing his channel. The News Editor was polite enough and took the matter seriously, but the reporter and photographer went on making a show out side the auditorium.

Audience and common people were shocked to see such arrogance from our people. The story ends here. but the trauma goes on.

Thus saying, Kedar babu has raised an issue that calls for serious cogitation.

He has said,

In cultural programs I experience such disturbing deeds that a few members of media basking under the privilege of Press resort to almost everyday.This is because, reporters who do not understand classical music, song or dance are being deputed to cover the shows.

Kedar babu is a perfectly suave, dignified journalist who, as an editor, is highly esteemed. His love for new entrants to the profession of journalism is unquestionable, immense and absolute.

I sincerely hope, the ones who humiliated the audience as well as the performing artists and luminaries of our classical music world in the Rabindra Mandap would feel ashamed of their conduct and amend themselves.

And, I further hope that the news media organizations would take Kedar babu’s words seriously and desist from deploying in future inefficient and inexperienced hands to cover cultural events.

As we find, no media organization in Orissa is having a culture desk with the concerned staff trained in culture coverage. Even no cameraman of any media organization has any specialization in the matter of covering events of art and culture. It is time, they must take the issue seriously. The State must force the media houses to impart in-service training to reporters and cameramen to be earmarked for culture desks in coverage of cultural events; because, responsibility lies with the Government to protect the cultural environment of the State and to protect performing artists from humiliation.

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