After the economy, the Presidential scanner shifts to the media. In his customary Independence Day-eve speech, President K.R. Narayanan rapped the "sensation-crazy" sections of the fourth estate with a bent to romanticise criminals.
The reactions to such plainspeak has been diverse. While on one hand the acceptance of the ubiquitous trivia reporting and "superficial sensationalism" is universal, an animated debate rages about its extent.
What the President was concerned about is the manner in which the media focused on Veerappan, carried his photos and carried interviews of his wife and daughter. Nakkheeran editor R.R. Gopal got a fair share of publicity. And TV channels showed extensive footage of the sandalwood smuggler in his hideout. One Tamil magazine even used its computer to put Veerappan and actor Rajnikant on the cover. Veerappan has become an icon of sorts in Tamil Nadu, courtesy the media.
Says B.G. Verghese of the Centre for Policy Research: "Over the years the media has been...