With the expansion of electronic media, proliferation of e-content through various portals and website, the opportunities in the field of Journalism has proliferated manifold. This proliferation has opened up the floodgates of opportunities for young budding journalism aspirants. But with rising market and option the competition has also risen in equal proportion. The pace and speed of flux in the industry where 50 news in a minute, top 100 news in few minutes has become a fad being madly followed by electronic media. Where the need for breaking news has taken away the reliability and responsibility elements from the news, to a major extent.
This waywardness has costed media its credibility. There was a time when a TV or Print news was considered as ultimate truth, when people used to refer the printed news with reverence and used to quote it saying “It has been published in the newspaper”. The same is not true. Today’s media in the rush for commercialism has bartered its credibility for profit. Films are the reflection of the society, and this change in the journalistic world is clearly reflected in the films. In old films a journalist was an honest person, with very humble means, he used to wear chappals, ride a bicycle to work, or walk on foot; he had a house in slum or “jhopadpatti” as they refer it to in Mumbai. This journalist always used to fight for the cause of ordinary citizens, was always against the factory owners. As India was newly being initiated into Socialism by Nehru, and Factory owner and Saahukar were considered as villains of the society, this script was taken from the society and reflected the true nature of the reporter.
The reporter or the small newspaper editor was honest and was so much driven by truth and justice that he was ready to die then compromise on the news that he was publishing. The films of 50s and 60s invariably had an honest reporter or a newspaper editor’s character. But with changing society, the profile and getup of the journalist also changed. Cycle riding, Kurta Chappal wearing, poor journalist was replaced by suit tie wearing, high flying, young, rich street smart reporter, the Shahrukh Khan of “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani” The manipulative, sometimes blackmailing journalist took birth. A journalist who was bothered about circulation, market, branding and positioning, who was an ace player in the race of getting the news first. Unfortunately, he became the role model of young journalist, who focus more on dress then detail, focus more on style than on content, who want to be and behave like a celebrity. This attitude is affecting the quality of journalism and quality of news being served to public and this is responsible of loss of trust to the extent of abhorrence in the minds of ordinary people.News now is just another product, tailored, designed, packaged and marketed like any commodity. News worthiness is financial viability, not social, community and national relevance.
The quality or authenticity of news was not at all a consideration. Famous film maker Madhur Bhandarkar’s movie Page 3 has shown almost real picture of corporatized media house. The film is allegedly based on many real life instances. In one of the story track, one honest journalist breaks a story of child trafficking in which many bigwigs and elites of the society were involved. A police raid was conducted on the farmhouse, many kids were freed and many influential people were arrested, but those arrested were who’s who of town, so they pulled few strings and they were released from the police station, without any case being lodged against them, and the poor journalist was fired, instead of being rewarded for the brilliant work that she did. The media house nexus also did not allow her to get any job at any other newspaper in town. It was a film story, but there are many instances like this in every town, big or small. Like in every other filed the values have taken a nosedive and the profession has become almost like a legalized extortion.
There was a time when all big writers and poets were associated with a newspapers, everyone had huge body of literary work which was respected and valued by all. All the journalists and media person had excellent command on the language that they used to speak, or write in. Situation is in complete contrast today, when most of the journalists have not gone beyond Chetan Bhagat, the language is also way beyond perfect. The art of interviewing is now almost gone into oblivion. Most of the journalists apparently are not able to differentiate between an interview and a debate. A normal person cannot watch the entire debate and discussion show in Arnab Goswami format of discussion, which most of the channels have imitated , where you call 10-15 panelists provoke them into argument and then unleash the fighting cocks on the viewers who helplessly are left trying to figure out who is saying what, because everybody is speaking simultaneously, and the moderator is conspicuous by his absence as he never moderates but provokes one panelist against the other, as if he is conducting a WWF fight.The challenging and gloomy situation of journalist profession is also an opportunity. With so much of mediocrity around, in terms of news content, a good news journalist and editor is easily identified and positively differentiated in the minds and hearts of people. Journalist like Sudheer Chaudhury, Sumit Awasthi, Rohit Sardana have clearly made their mark in Hindi electronic media journalism. DNA a show produced by ZEE News and anchored by Sudheer Chaudhury has become very popular among the masses, because it attempts to rely on true and authenticated news rather than creating sensation. Over the years, it has gained good TRP.
Journalism is about news not about views. Views are for the audience to have, after getting the objective news. A good journalist should be completely informed and educated about the subject he is covering; he should have very clear idea about the questions that he needs to ask. A journalist’s job is to collect news and share it with people through his medium, he is not supposed to have load and color his news with his opinion and bias. If you are thinking about pursuing your career in journalism, aspire for becoming an excellent professional, who would do his job with utmost competency and sincerity. It is a tough call to maintain a balance between grace and glitz and not getting carried away with almost instant celebrity status which today’s world can give you. But its more fragile than a bubble, remember that.