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Sunday, August 14, 2011

U.K. RIOTS: Media Matters - Ethical shadows!

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Sevanti Ninan, The Hindu / August 13, 2011.

Unchartered territories: Can the technology be blamed for its misuse?
Unchartered territories: Can the technology be blamed for its misuse? - AP.

Can conventional notions of ethics be applied to new, technology-driven media? Facebook, Twitter and other emerging platforms bring perplexing dilemmas with them…
Two media issues emerged last fortnight, with absolutely nothing common between them. But let us use them to explore whether it is possible to apply conventional notions of media ethics to new technology-driven media, which in terms of use is less an act of conscious media practice or consumption, and more a matter of using a lifestyle tool to respond to instant social instincts.
First, starting with a story in Mumbai Mirror, conflict of interest questions were raised about the fact that star cricket commentators Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar, who are presumed to be voicing their independent opinions in the commentary box, are contracted by the Board of Cricket Control for India (BCCI) for Rs 3.6 crore annually to do the commentary on satellite channels. This apparently applies to all BCCI-owned cricket — international matches held in India, the IPL, and the Champions League.

Troubling use of technology
Then we come to the way social networking was used in the London riots, and indeed social media per se. Is it media in a professional sense, or is it technology-induced instant communication which these days is given almost as much credence as an opinion poll, which again is becoming an extended form of media activity?  What norms do you hold such mass-generated media to?

Can it be regulated?
Shortly before the London riots began, in the same week, the press reported that the Government of India wanted to “monitor” Facebook and Twitter. This was based on a written reply in the Rajya Sabha by Milind Deora, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, which said the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked for such monitoring. Presumably to track terror networks.

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