A journalist is a gentleman with a glass of red wine. And this gentleman today asks where is injustice! He is right. All is quiet. Media people love to loudmouth about others but when it comes to issues concerning them, they prefer ignorance. The work which was once considered a mission is now a profession where today’s journalists are mere gentlemen. Thus I am of the considered opinion that they have become a commodity that can be bought or sold.
These gentlemen are not bothered about lakhs of fellow journalists, who work as part-timers or freelancers across the country for just few hundred rupees a month and are at greater risks having no protection at all.
To these gentlemen, even press freedom does not mean anything. They are mere employees of their businessman editor-in-chiefs who use them, quite liberally. Having bought flats in high-rise buildings and possessing big cars to park at clubs and 5-stars, these gentlemen appear worried more about their next month’s EMI than working on stories that should fetch them money in a respectful manner.
Otherwise a very demoralized lot, the modern day journalists have forgotten to protest any injustice. In fact, they have even lost their will to organize themselves. Most of the appointments in the recent times in the media industry have been on contracts under which arrangement, the bargain is only in the favour of the employers.
I notice that my colleagues cannot even think independently, now. PR firms have also eaten them up so much so that everything appears colourful to them. “Ownership of media by conglomerates, bundles of different businesses in which the press is but one, has yet to prove a blessing to journalism,” says Sir Harold Evans, former editor of the Times and Sunday Times, London.
Gone are the days when political parties used to get nervous of a journalist or his publication. Come elections, and everything is managed now. Scamsters and criminals too maintain an excellent rapport with these journalists. And most importantly, many accredited scribes can today be found farting jokes in ministers’ cabins while conspiring to kill a news. Rest of the media barons, editors and producers spend quality time hobnobbing with the rich and powerful to get their share of the exploits.
To Gabriel García Márquez, one of the most significant authors of the 20th century to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, these falling standards hurt most: “Journalists must go back to the trenches, rediscover the basics. There was a time when journalists formed a tight-knit group, sharing a common life, and were so fanatical about the profession that we talked of nothing else.”
But didn’t the practice of this profession then require a broad cultural background, which was provided by the work environment. But where is the work environment today? What we get instead is an environment where you are told to cover Rahul Gandhi more than his huge Congress party … An environment where Priyanka Gandhi’s husband is projected as India’s most important son-in-law … Where the Bureau Chiefs in state capitals are deputed to collect money instead of news [The whole fleet of news agency PTI has Managers instead of Bureau Chiefs].
Unarguably, the wall between the business and content has crumbled now, and no one except the journalists themselves are to be blamed for this mess. No wonder, places that were known as news streets are producing idiot sheets. Truth poses a problem now and, as a result, journalists are losing their credibility.
I am though optimistic about myself, as I believe the business rocks if the content rocks. That is the principle on which the most profitable media companies in the world operate. Well, if you don’t blow your trumpet, who will do it for you?