Monday, July 23, 2007

Is Good Journalism,Bad Business?? A comment

There was a time when news meant newspapers or the occassional broadcast on doordarshan.But those times have long gone.The last time i ever saw doordarshan on my television was........... Ok..I don't remember.The point is news today has long gone from being the first thing after coffee to the everything we watch in between advertisements.I remember waking up early in the morning to get the newspaper before my dad in order to look at the photo of sachin in his glorious form on the sports page...Well,that was ten years ago.

Today news channels are on an adrenalin high.They go buzzing off for everything insanely silly from an eloped couple to bhoots coming to town on hearing himesh's music.I really do not understand the fact that News channel editors do find it ethically,morally right to put these things on television.Not even the 'high class' news channels have refrained from this fast catching hunt for TRPs.So it came as a pleasant change as i watched india's best journalists discuss this new phenom of journalism in front of a very capable panel.

The Indian Express is often regarded as the most respected newspaper in this country by aesthetic readers.Others like me prefer 'The Times Of India' out of habit.I remember my dad bringing a copy of the Times along with the Express.He would read the Times,for compulsion of habit and the Express for politically relevant news.But recently even newspapers have fallen prey to the 'entertainment' factor.

As I watched our 'exiting president' APJ ABdul Kalam question the relevance of journalism's role in the upliftment of 22% of our population which are below the poverty line,he was almost rebutted by an answer by the editor of the Times Of India.What I vaguely heard over the confusion was that the 22% do not read newspapers,watch TV,or get podcasts.How is the media ever going to get to them.A very pertinent question indeed.But i wish the rep for such a reputed newspaper had looked back a little on our past before commenting so harshly.The path to our independence has been paved with the efforts of responsible journalism.Raja Ram Mohan Roy' Samvad Koumudi is probably one of the earliest reference to good journalistic behavior.And i doubt whether people in those times had television,i pods,least of all they hardly were literate.

Another question that came to the fore during this debate was that whether or not the indian media was losing its touch with relevant and responsible journalism. The question was raised by the ever wily LK Advani.The man sure caught Rajdeep Sardesai on the wrong foot.Even Barkha Dutt tried her chances as she pushed rajdeep to the fore to answer that question.What rajdeep said indeed surprised me.I hold him in high esteem for being a good journalist all these years,but his answer referred that he was more a businessman now.He replied that he did not work in a vaccuum.He referred to his channel being the biggest news breaker this year.So what if some of the news are completely stupid.They only act as spice in the middle of a hearty meal.That answer was good enough for Sitaram Yechury, an uncomfortable communist sitting there to raise some better thoughts.Was it not possible for the media to do the same kind of strive towards its excellence in the field by eliminating such irrelevant news?

The question still remains what is relevant and what is irrelevant news??Some journalists raised the argument that regional newspapers have gone to dogs.This they attribute to the fact that the televison media is showing all sorts of news which 'titillate' the reader who looks to his newspaper in the same way as he watches TV.So,publishers who do print relevant news find it 'bad business' to keep on doing their job as other newspapers make hay while printing gossips.The answers to which ranged from the eternal 'Times have changed' to 'we give the reader what he wants'.So,my question wud have been,If the reader indeed is going wrong in asking for stupid stuff;isn't it the job of the media-the conscience keepers- to rectify them and bring them on track with good,responsible and impact creating news?

I might be considered an ambitious yet stupid young man.I do not now how the industry works,or how it should work.I have no experience in the field that i dream of going into.But one thing i know for certain...Integrity,independence and courage are things a journalist lives on.That is what my teacher taught me.Compromising on any one of these factors for any reason-be it money,fame or popularity-is despicable.And i wonder if those news casters knew that.For they were sitting beneath the picture of one of the founding fathers of Modern Indian Journalism.

Ramnath Goenka is a legend in the news circles.I hardly know anything other than his big fight with Reliance(remember GURU),his crusade against Indira Gandhi.MY father told me that Goenka was not known for his founding of the Indian Express.When Mrs Indira Gandhi declared eemergency all across the country,most newspapers next morning carried out an 'official' press release declaring the story of it.The Express didn't.What Mr ramnath Goenka did established his fame in the annals of Indian journalistic history.The readers of the Express received a completely black manuscript.Nothing was ever printed in those pages,except for a few words at the beginning of the front page.The words read

"Let Truth Prevail"

That is journalism.Fearless,true and morally right.

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