US media: Crisis of confidence

For Americans, a journalist is as trustworthy as a used car salesman, says Sreenath Sreenivasan, dean of students, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. An exclusive interview with Venkatachari Jagannathan.

Sreenath SrinivasanSreenath Sreenivasan, dean of students the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, New York, and the founder of the South Asian Journalists Association (Saja), does not mince words. He says: "The American public trusts journalists as they would a used car salesman." Two world famous Indian journalists who have graduated from the illustrious school he presently heads are former union minister Arun Shourie and N Ram, editor, The Hindu.

Incidentally reputed journalist N Ram, editor, The Hindu, is an alumnus of the prestigious Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

According to the media pundit, the US media is now facing a series of crises — a crisis of quality, confidence and credibility. Simultaneously, he points out, journalists in other parts of the world have lost faith in the American media. Sreenivasan says that American newspaper circulations as well as television channel viewership have come down drastically, especially after the Iraq war and the 'embedded reporting' it brought into every American drawing room.

"There is a sort of unwritten censorship. Papers do not want to be seen to be on the wrong side of the powers that be. Even when the White House declared to the world: `Either you are with us or against us,' the media failed in its duty of hard questioning. It is the duty of the government to manage the media while the latter's job is to be vigilant," he says.