“Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade. It has no more moral function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible adviser of the Public. To give the news uncoloured by any motive, to present a certain view of public policy which it believes to be for the good of the community, to correct and chastise without fear all those, no matter how high, who have chosen a wrong or a barren path, is not regarded by journalism in India its first or foremost duty.” — Dr B R Ambedkar, Journalism in India, 1943, Vol-I, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches
This week is stormed by the arrival of a news channel that came up with consecutive expose on political personalities. This has also exposed the faultlines that have been haunting our media world for quite some time. Whether the Lalu-Shahabuddin relations or dubious AAP money trail or suspicious death of Ms Sunanda Pushkar, all these stories were known in media, now they are out with some concrete leads. Only time and further investigation will tell the actual impact of these revelations. What should concern us as a nation is the way media discourse shaped after the investigative stories hit the news market. The media introspection is all the more pertinent when nationwide celebration of Maharshi Narad Jayanti is going on.
Many other media groups also believed to have the similar leads that they refrained from airing. There is no harm in editing information, as even Narad, who is reversed as the first journalist used to do. This editing has to be for the larger good and not to promote own interests. When this selective editing takes the turn of an agenda reporting, hiding certain stories and overplaying the others with sinister objective, then it becomes a problem. While hobnobbying with Lalu Prasad Yadav and projecting him as an icon of social justice and secularism, some journalists systematically covered up his feudal tricks to amass wealth, is a dangerous trend. This group is scattered in various media houses and it’s petty gains have always taken preponderance over the professional credibility which should be a matter of concern for all.
The technique of news based on presumptions to further the agenda reporting has become a trend. Verification of facts from different sources is the basic trait of journalism that is replaced by table and twitter stories with spicy twists. The cooked-up stories of beef eating and subsequent gang rape, earlier in Haryana and now in Uttar Pradesh, by a prominent journalist from a reputed media group is just an example. The story with clear communalising intent can have a disastrous impact on the society. Again Narad. who is considered a messenger of God, who after constantly wandering around in all three worlds and passing on the relevant information to all, can be a guiding force. He used to travel, cross question and passing on the information at the relevant point with constuctive intent.
Like many other fields, complete deterioration of professional ethics in media is another area of concern. Agreed that journalists also come from the same society where there is a general deterioration of values. It is also true that the way media has become a trade with foreign direct investment, the personal interests of investors will prevail on media ethics. In such a scenario, it becomes all the more important for journalists to set the high moral standards. Whether it is the Naxal issue or the Pakistan supported unrest in Jammu & Kashmir, we do not find this intent in media. Narad took help and resources from all but when it came to delivering the information, restoration of Dharma, was the guiding force. To ensure transparent, accountable and participatory governance, come up with constructive solutions for the social ills, strengthening the unifying forces and divulging the anti-national elements can be the goal for present day media.
Though most of these trade tricks are prevalent in electronic media but the print media is also getting influenced by the powerful audio-visual medium and facing the credibility crisis. For media to be a watchdog of democracy in present times, the real icon of Maharshi Narad is to be followed and not the one distorted by the British and Bollywood. @PrafullaKetkar