A part of the thrill to be a journalist is the feeling that one is contributing something important to the society.
Speaking of his days, veteran Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar once said that they were also cast in the exalted role of interpreting policy to the public and reporting the public’s reaction back to the policy-makers. “Those of us who analysed political developments soon became part and parcel of the national dialogue,” the celebrated journalist also said, adding candidly that, politicians sought them so that they could relay their ‘message’ to a wider audience. He also said that readers wanted to tell them what they thought about the people at the helm of affairs. “The combination added up to a golden age of political punditry that is now in the process of disappearing”.
Nayar may be attributing the coming of electronic media such as television and internet as the factors contributing to the “disappearing” act.
However, in the introduction to his book, Scoop!, the noted journalist said, “This does not mean that the role of the newspaper profession is over, only that the competition is much stronger”.
One interesting thing he observed on the prevailing trend of journalism is—“The ultimate winners can be from print, television, radio or the Internet. But the crown still goes to those who get the scoops”.
But given today’s reality, the degree of that thrill also greatly depends on the powers-that-be interfering the affairs.
It has become rampant today that the powers-that-be, through their numerous agencies, have been trying to ‘discourage’ the media houses from doing what they are supposed to do as summons served to journalists by those agencies have become a common practice today. In a way, these agencies of the powers-that-be are trying to become the virtual agenda setters of media houses. Small and ‘regional’ newspapers are experiencing the brunt of those agencies the most. This is, perhaps, an assault on the freedom of collective conscience.
In addition, India’s continues fall in the annual World Press Freedom Index published by the international non-profit and non-governmental watchdog Reporters Without Borders reflect growing challenges for the media houses.
Nevertheless, in spite of the continuous assault on the media houses by those agencies, the former have given riveting focus and create more ground-breaking events more than ever before. Cases to support this argument abound.
Many may have a notion that competition paradigm has been the reason that garners media ‘courage’ for the sharp and scoop reportage. It is not. A sense of responsibility has been also a huge burden to the media houses; without this, the meager remuneration of the field would have bogged down many journalists.