By Witoubou Newmai
There was a heated debate among the members of a popular WhatsApp group over why ‘bad’ news dominates social and traditional media. Most of the members of the group accused the media of promoting ‘bad’ news. In the course of the debate, one of the members op- posing this notion posted something like this—“A passenger bus started from Dimapur at 6 pm of April 6 reached Shillong safely the next morning. There was not a single case of fighting among the passengers. No passenger fell sick throughout the journey. None of the tyres of the bus got punctured and…”
In no time, many members of the group questioned the post master of the WhatsApp group on the relevance of his post on the group.
A part of the thrill observed in that debate was the failure to stimulate the WhatsApp group members by the piece of infor- mation about the safe bus journey. They simply dismissed the information as ‘irrelevant’.
Even though the group members accused the social and traditional media of promoting ‘bad’ news, they would not dismiss it if the information was about mishap of the passenger bus.
An important argument advanced here is that, the universality of human curiosity on odd stuff comes to define news loosely. Moral responsibility and conscience of journalists act as a ‘breaker’ from going haywire because appreciation of values seldom slips away from the concern of journalists.
It is never illuminating and entertaining for journalists to present ‘bad’ news to the audience. But journalists are only failing from their responsibility if they hesitate to inform and signal to the society what is not normal or usual. In doing so, journalists often throw their personal security to great realms of danger. It is only this all-encompassing moral responsibility of the journalists that ignores their own interests. Very often when any unusual happening is found by the journalists, a risk is also found with it. Most of such encounters are a living hell for local journalists.
The connotation of the whole message can also be that, comparatively speaking, normalcy still prevails if the ‘bad’ stuff is still considered ‘news’.
In a discussion such as this, it is worth noting that many people decorated with high-flying university degrees (journalism) often end up as typists on the desk and later throw in the towel in want of journalistic flair and passion. The situation created by the infancy of the profession and public ignorance in a near-comatose society is all the more discouraging for many local journalists. If there are a handful of local journalists around for some time now, it is because of their sheer zeal to serve the society.
Today, many journalists in Nagaland have grown to meet the challenges of social intricacies. The raging pursuit of journalists in Nagaland, both in terms of specific and broad reach, deserves celebration and support. They have produced much admired impact on society. However, this is not to suggest that maturity of the profession in the State has reached its desired level. As commented earlier, a slow growing society has also been one of the impediments to the growth of the media profession.