Dear News Channels,
Please don’t ruin it for us. We learn journalist ethics at journalism school and our seniors laugh and tell us no one gives a hoot about them in media houses. I watch the news for 5 minutes and can’t watch any longer even if I wanted to. They say ignorance is bliss, and I couldn’t agree more because earlier I could watch news channels and blame the status quo. “This is the way things are; everyone is doing the best they can”, my optimistic soul would say. But now that I’ve studied journalism for a year I know this is not the way journalism is supposed to be.
Objectivity and a neutral perspective to news is the responsibility of a journalist. By those standards our news channels fall nowhere near journalism, they’ve entered the field of drama and are doing pretty well there. News is supposed to be in the public interest, not of public interest.
News that matters and should be discussed is being sidelined as Sushant Singh Rajput’s death is being made a public spectacle. On one side, the media badgers Rhea Chakraborty as she is taken into custody and cameras are thrust into her brother’s face as he tries to hide. On the other side, the media blames Sushant’s doctor for releasing his medical reports. While the press shows no regard for privacy, it also has the brazen shamelessness to condemn others who don’t.
I see my family watching the news which has aired Ms Chakrobarty 24×7 for a week now and promptly change the TV to a soap opera channel. “If you want to watch drama, at least watch the good ones,” I tell them. I entered the journalism profession with the hope of bringing to light news that matters, making the public aware of the concerns of the country and doing my service to society and the nation.
And now when my parents look at journalists on TV saying “Rhea Ka Kaala Jadoo”, they look back at me and ask, “Is this what you want to do too?” I look back at them and want to shout, “This is not journalism! No, I don’t want to do drama.” “What is it then?” they ask me, and I have no answer. The journalism I grew up watching doesn’t adhere to the journalism I aspire to.
Today, my friend commented, “You’re doing journalism, right? Please save the journalism of this country.” I wonder how much of it we’ll be able to salvage after all. Ms Chakrobarty was recently arrested for possession of weed, a charge for which a significant youth population of India would be turned in. She was arrested simply because at this point the police were pressured. Right from the disturbing investigation into the Arushi Talwar case, spinning one narrative after the other on Sushant and Rhea, media houses have violated not only every existing journalistic ethic but also every moral and human ethic.
This is the profession of the noble and brave. Do not degrade it for your TRPs and cheap publicity. Journalism in this country was nurtured by legends like Tilak and Gandhi who made the press a force to be reckoned with, the voice of truth, the light of reason. The freedom struggle was ignited and guided by a press that fought back even when it was declared illegal, such was the threat it posed to an oppressive regime. Because that is what journalism is supposed to do, speak the truth, without fear or favour.
Journalism knows no culture, tradition, gender or nationality. Objectivity is its primary guiding light. News is not supposed to be subjective; it is not supposed to come from a pre-formed notion of one-sided perspective. Our press freedom index is the lowest ever. Our democratic index has fallen. Our Prime Minister hasn’t directed a single press conference where he took questions from journalists. The PM Cares fund has been excused from the RTI. The GDP has fallen by 23.9%. This is news. News that should be covered.
A journalism student hoping to do journalism and not drama.