India boasts of a free press, but journalists in the country are not free, said information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi in a recent speech. Earlier, he had cautioned the media against “playing up to big houses and corporate houses who might have the remote control”.
The minister’s heart is in the right place even if the solution—a regulatory system for the media—will end up nowhere, with all media houses ganging up to dub it as unnecessary curbs on freedom of expression. If the minister is keen to alter this nexus between newsrooms and business houses, we have one radical suggestion.
Open the spigot of competition even more by lifting curbs on foreign direct investment in media, letting foreign titles print and sell in India with more freedom. All of us, including at Mint, will face more competition, but we just might also find that the new entrants bring better practices, strong codes of conduct and more honest journalism into our midst.