Mr. N. Ravi, Publisher, The Hindu Group of Newspaper, delivered the H. Venkatasubbiah Memorial Lecture on ‘Journalism and Public Policy’ on 17th February 2020. Mr. N. Ravi briefed about H. Venkatasubbiah as one of a rare breed of scholar journalists and he was also an economic historian of considerable repute. His work on the structure of the Indian economy was published by Allen and Unwin and he wrote the definitive history of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He stood apart from other journalists of his day with his academic bent and meticulous research which he brought to bear on his writings. His analyses were thoughtful and his criticism was gentle but unerring and when he made a point, policy makers would sit up and take notice.
After briefing about H. Venkatasubbiah, he delivered a lecture on “Journalism and Public Policy” in which he discussed several basic questions: The first was whether the media and journalism could be considered part of the common good. Secondly, what is the nature of the duty or obligation of journalists and the media? Yet, journalists do perform a public duty of informing citizens and is it their obligation to promote the public interest over private interests? Is journalism a profession, should it be subject to formal regulations in the manner of professions such as law and medicine, for instance? What sets journalism and the media apart from such professions? If one were to regard a free media as a common good, how much freedom should public policy allow? How then do you deal with accountability, what are the restraints? Overall it was thought provoking discussion to relate journalism with public policy.