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The Media’s Obsession With ‘Super Objectivity’ Must Stop

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Objectivity in journalism is an illusion. A journalist, newspaper or a news channel must do away with the idea of being super objective. They must possess an unbiased and a fair subjective opinion on every important event that could make or take the lives of people of this country in particular and the entire world in general.

One can question how someone could remain unbiased while possessing a subjective idea. Yes, it is possible. Being subjective is never bad, whenever you express it in larger national interests and of course in compliance with the goals of our democratic polity and constitution. Here, larger national interests too have various meanings. An idea initiated by liberals, claims that, this is the idea that will take this country forward and would cater to the needs of common people. On the other hand, conservatives too float their own ideas claiming that their idea is the best and suitable for the common good.

The problems begin when two different ideas confront each other. And here’s where the job of the journalists begin. Media interprets the two different ideas and put the right one before the common people by making these ideas understandable to them while doing justice to the people and cherishing the fundamentals of our constitutional mandates.

While I am writing this, few of my fellow journalists, friends and other intellectuals may disagree with my points and can definitely remind me of the lifelong lessons that have been imparted to us to remain neutral at all times. Regardless of the above arguments, we must dare to stand by the pair of ‘people and truth’, if we care about the significance of subjective elements and the perspectives. One can preserve his/her objectivity while having a perspective at the same time. I believe as a citizen of this country that being subjective in a legitimate sense and doing away with ‘super objectivity’ is very important especially in a country like ours where millions of citizens are still not literate.

The growing tendencies among journalists and media houses to achieve ‘super objectivity’ often lead to a disastrous situation that ultimately sets aside the centre point of public concerns.

For example, the objective elements based on the Prime Minister’s app opinion poll on demonetisation, suggest us that everything is good. It creates an impression that the people of this country have supported this move overwhelmingly but the perspectives and insights compel us to tell everyone a completely different story. Almost all the news channels and newspapers started singing in the same tune what is being already orchestrated by the government since the scheme has been adopted.

Questioning the survey’s sample size seemed like a huge no-no. Hiding the facts and numbers regarding smartphone users among our vast population shows the pro-objective nature of journalism with more inclination towards the government’s take. Now tell me, how justified is to vindicate oneself with this tiny sample size of 1 million in a country of over one billion?

Here is another example of ‘super objectivity’. On November 18, 2016, an interview of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal went viral on social media. In fact, it was a Facebook live of BBC Hindi. In that interview, Kejriwal was making allegations about the Centre, the PM and other corporate top guns. Somewhere in the middle of the interview, Kejriwal lost his cool and started questioning the credibility of BBC. The reporter got offended and of course certain other media houses that stand tall claiming solace for the poor got hurt as well. Reports were published in a tone of accusation against the CM for losing his temper. But what had actually happened?

The CM had merely put the same facts and figures of deaths due to inconvenience caused by the demonetisation scheme that were being circulated in newspapers and news channels. He was referring to news reports regarding the deaths caused by the move. The reporter, without wasting any time, asked the guest inquisitively, how he could “directly link” those deaths with demonetisation?

When reports of deaths are coming from all over the country explicitly mentioning the circumstances pointing to demonetisation as a possible reason, asking for proof is a little much. Interestingly, when the question of credibility was brought up, the debate diverted into a different direction intentionally. I am very vocal with the issue of questioning a politician or a public servant. Freedom of press gives you the right to ask. Go and do it every time with full honesty, no problem. But ridiculing the facts and figures of a pathetic situation especially death is neither fair nor ethical in any sense. It actually ruins your objectivity too.

Why was the reporter representing the idea of being super objective on a specific question regarding the number of deaths? Death is death.

The principle of human ethics is above all professional ethics. Investigating the cause of death and questioning the exact number can truly make a reporter super objective but this does not accomplish the purpose of journalism and the press. The press must take a stand on certain things that affect the people of this country. Alignment with the government is actually de-alignment with the people. Press is all about putting people first, not the government and this spirit is possible only when a portion of subjectivity exists. Sometimes, super objectivity takes away the soul of truth. It is subjectivity that fuels fresh blood into this mechanism for keeping truth always alive through criticism and questions.

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    Very well crafted Aadil..👍☺️..!!

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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