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Death of a noble profession


Professional integrity and personal honesty is no more a journalistic virtue in India. Since the advent BJP to power and coronation of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India, media, more particularly TV news channels have, all the more, become extension of north block. The rot started with the Times Now. NewsX was next to follow. Of late India Today too has followed the trend. NDTV had been an exception, though with a margin. The launch of a new channel—Republic—by the real din master Arnab Goswami has added another reason to feel concerned on the falling standards journalism. Since the launch of the channel, some months back, almost all the TV news channels are in competition to air “expose’ in race to keep their audience intact. The main job of news media is to inform people about unbiased news without any censorship or tampering. People always trust actual and honest news. The media also has its own opinion. But they can only put it in their own personal space, leaving it for the public to make its own assessment. At the same time, they have to incorporate other opinions too, however contradicting the owner’s/editor’s view might be. The purpose of news media is to present accurate news and all types of views in front of people. That way they maintain their credibility. If one goes by the public perceptions almost 80 percent people do not trust the media. Earlier, newspapers also gave space for reader’s opinions such as ‘letter to the editor’ or ‘reader as writer’ etc. TV channels too offered phone-in programs. But then, those were so little and so insufficient that people started preferring social media instead. The ultra-nationalistic approach of news anchors and their reporters have grossly affected the objectivity and professionalism. Asking questions and seeking answers, which is the primary job of a journalist, is compromised without any sense of guilt and shame. There was a time, in recent past, when the media was associated with words like ‘truth’, ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’. Today, that’s not the case. Many people ‘fear’ media persons and loathe what they represent — much like they do the police or goons. That is why words like ‘dalal’, ‘agents’ and ‘fixers’ are associated with certain sections of the media. Perhaps that is why when a minister chooses a derogatory tag like ‘presstitutes’, many people nod in agreement. In many a cases, one finds little difference between News bulletin and Soap Opera—as nothing but TRP-generating, highly-entertaining evening circuses meant to entertain and distract the people. What happened in the electronic era is that mainstream media became corporatized to spread its business as well as to acquire advanced infrastructure. To corporatize, it required corporate financing. Entry of corporate brought in the culture of profiteering and that culture first killed the neutrality of news media. Corporate get most profit if they can be close to the broker lobby of power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts even more. Thus, many news media started selective reporting. Apart from that they instead of presenting views started imposing views. The most shocking part of whole sell-off (to government) is viewed as ‘anti-national’ and ‘seditious’ by these very news channels. A large number of jurists, academicians, intellectuals, journalists and political commentators have got around the government to sell the idea of ‘sedition’ on questioning the government. What is even worse is that the political partnership, which had been the essence of idea of India, has completely changed into partisan antipathy and political animosity. Voices of reason are becoming very rare in India. The watchdogs (Journalists) are turning into lapdogs, barking on anyone and everyone they sniff ‘suspect’. They are in race in offering them to hang on to the coat tails of the ruling party. That has put an important pillar of democracy in danger of being compromised, which in ultimate analysis is injurious for the overall health of the democracy.