After the arrest of two senior journalists of Zee Group, the discussion on the practice of Journalism in India has once again fuelled the debate over the credibility of Corporations heading the media groups. Though, the investigations are still on, postmortems of the whole saga have already covered every mainline magazine of the country. Most of the stories covering the event have viewed it from a Journalistic and the credibility point of view. The redundancy of the same argument about the two Journalists being unfair and dishonest to their profession has found a cacophony from print to electronic media.
But if we look at the modern history of Journalism diluting itself with the vested interests of corporate, celebrities and Politicians we find many examples.
The world and every journalist who prides himself at being a Pulitzer Prize winner most frequently forgets or probably ignores that Joseph Pulitzer was the originator of Yellow Journalism in Modern History. Pulitzer’s paper ‘New York World’ and his rival Joseph Randolph Hurst’s paper ‘New York Journal’ was in such a competition for circulation that invariably they ended up catering yellow journalism. Today, Including Developing Nations, literary sphere and Journalistic circles regards Pulitzer Prize as something very pious and credible. These symbols, prizes and schemes of piousness not only force our curriculum makers to instill the hypo critic statements regarding the morality and fairness of a Journalist but the false consciousness of being a watchdog, especially when top brass of Journalists are ready to mingle with the Money honchos. No wonder that in India the courses of Journalism most often run themselves on the romantic notions such as the Fourth Pillar of Democracy and credibility. The fair, balance and non partiality in a Journalist has lot to with the context of the organization in which he is working, the upbringing of the man and his rationality. Unless showcasing moral values in behavior, you can never teach a student how to be honest and credible. The problem is that most of the teacher who are teaching these types of courses have not internalize the true meaning of being rationale, democratic, unbiased and full of conviction. The arrest of the two journalists is a stamp to the process.
The story of Pulitzer goes on to Walter Lippmann. The story of Lippmann may not be taught in the curriculum, but you can see many English Newspaper journalists citing Lippmann as the torch bearer of the Journalistic values in the aftermath of First World War in America. But to me Lippmann has been a source of pseudo Intellect in English media for years. He was very hard on the cronies of government and president that how they were affecting the policies in America but became numb when he himself came closer to the president of the time. Today, when Senior NDTV Journalist Pankaj Pachauri joins prime minister’s Coterie as the Media adviser, no body pays attentions to the contrast to the values which Pachauri once tried to exhibit through his Journalism.
There is a black and white with every Media, Political and Public issue and agenda. If you stick with one the chances of your moral values shaping your journalism will grow exponentially. But if you try to stick with the grey (the mix of both black and white part) then the chances of getting the summons by the courts become great. As two senior journalists are finding it these days.
At the level of college healthy debates and discussions can only find prominence, if teachers try to instill in his student the aspects of either sticking to black or white. When these black and white confront, the language of Hegel, (the thesis Vs antithesis leading up to a synthesis) becomes a force. Only if these qualities are prevalent, an Education institute thrives and becomes full of buzzing and humming elements. To have a good journalist one must have the idea to build his own ideology. We do know that since Fukuyama, the world seemed adamant on the end of history and of ideology. But the people who believe in Fukuyama and the end of history never recognize that by believing in Fukuyama and his beliefs they are following an ideology and Irrespective of many social thoughts there can be no denial that a quality education institute is reflection of free ideological expression.
When Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia must have been assigned with responsibilities of an Editor along with a Business Head, the thought of dilution might not have arrived in their mind. The systemic change in the practice of Journalism, Society and Education had its answer at that moment.
Ever since the arrest the cacophony of sounds from other media houses has become shriller and shriller, as if all of them are detached from paid news, sensationalism and advertorials. The famous Bennett and Coleman group today controls the biggest chunk of media in India. This controlling has everything to do with Vineet Jain, Managing Director Times of India, who clearly states his group to be an Advertising entity rather than a Journalistic one. His papers like Bombay Times and Delhi Times are nothing but the sheet of papers carrying Paid news of celebrities and big corporate. After a great amount of scathing by fellow Media Houses the group finally decided to put the word Advertorials in a small font right at the bottom of the paper.
On one hand Vineet Jain describes his business aspirations through the activities of his Media House; on the other his big brother Sameer Jain stakes his claims on companies by putting their advertisements in his papers and magazines. His treaty business cum Journalism has given a new dimension to the greed of media monoliths in India. Probably taking queue from this example, these are the kind of practices that led to the fall of the editors of Zee Group.
Due to conflict of interest, about a year ago Ex- Indian Cricket captain Anil Kumble resigned from his post of the chairman of national cricket academy. Kumble had the courage and conviction and the ideology either to believe in black or white, so he vacated his post.
Today, Anuradha Prasad, Editor in chief of News 24, is the wife of senior congress leader Rajiv Shukla and sister of senior BJP leader Ravi Shnakar Prasad, Chandan Mitra is the owner of the Daily Newspaper Pioneer and currently serving the term as a Rajya Sabha MP from BJP’s ticket, Shobhna Bhartiya is a MP recommended by Congress in Rajya Sabha.
Does any one of these owner cum journalist cum cronies has the courage to vacate their seats especially after considering the multitudes of their interest. I can firmly say ‘no’. No wonder the frequency of Radia like controversies is increasing.
In this light of argument there is something which always strikes the mind to complement our frustrations and this time it is a movie on journalism.
Orson wells made that wonderful creature named “Citizen Kane”, which time and again tried to detach us from the supernatural flow of false consciousness in the domain of Media and Journalism. Without a movie like Citizen Kane, I won’t be able to understand the demons of greed and ignorance prevalent in Education and society leading up to a undemocratic form of Media and journalism. I prefer watching that movie in every Communication and Journalistic Institute in this country.
With my Preference I hope the words “Long Live the Democracy, Long Live the Journalism”.