Conflicting interests

This is not the first time that the issue of media corruption has been catapulted onto center stage. Again, it was a coincidence (the state tender bill controversy) and not political will that renewed debate on the issue. Therefore, the best we can expect is a set of measures aimed at curbing sinecurism in the broader public sector. At worst, the whole thing will fade into oblivion. There has been no shortage of hypocrisy in this case. There is no doubt that a second job at a press office impinges on the code of journalistic ethics, as one cannot serve a certain power as an employee and, at the same time, fulfill one’s mission of reporting impartially on its actions. Such blatant cases, however, should not concern us here. Even blackmail is, politically speaking, not the most dangerous category. More worrying are the supposedly unbiased media celebrities who actually operate as an extension of different power centers. Needless to say, their motives are not based on ideology. The problem is that ties between journalists and big political or business interests are hard to trace. So is the flow of secret or illegal funds. To be sure, corruption in the media will never disappear completely. Yet a lot is at stake. All forms of power aspire to control the flow of information and are therefore willing to pay a huge price for it. The greater the temptation, the more likely people are to yield. Furthermore, the current climate of impunity allows even the most corrupt of journalists to come across as society’s guardians. It would be interesting to publish the names of journalists who have shares in private companies or have signed lucrative contracts with public corporations or big private firms. Similarly, it would be interesting if politicians revealed which firms they cooperate with for advice and media promotion. People would then be in a better position to judge what they hear and read in the media.