Truth Telling Should not be a Casualty

Truth Telling Should not be a Casualty

Freedom of the press is the sine qua non of a healthy society. Essentially, press freedom entails and means freedom of expression. A society that is choked of freedom of expression- even if it means dissent from dominant narratives- cannot be a healthy and robust society. This is all the more salient and poignant in zones of conflict. But, the “Achilles Heel” or vulnerable point of press freedom and thus freedom of expression is that media houses depend for their survival on revenue. They can neither survive nor thrive without ad revenues. This is a vulnerable point because powers that be who either want a palatable narrative or a narrative that suits then can choke genuine expression by starving newspapers. Some newspapers can be starved and others can be encouraged, mostly for political reasons and for promoting or discouraging certain narratives over others. It has been observed that the Information Department of Jammu and Kashmir is precisely doing this. The reasons, to repeat, appear to be a combination of politics, vindictiveness and sheer incompetence. To hark back to the initial observation, the intention of this malice is to choke the free space in Kashmir. This can only have deleterious consequences given that stanching the free flow of news and opinion can only created slanted news and media-scapes in Kashmir. In the final analysis, truth and sincerity of purpose should and must animate all the stakeholders of a given media-scape. The reasons pertain to ethics, morality and professionalism.  The essential premise or even rationale of the media- print, electronic or visual and so on- is public good or the public interest which, in turn, has narrational implications. As has been observed elsewhere, once primacy is accorded to motives other than public good and clean narratives, like TRP’s or mere profits, everybody- especially the public- loses. A warped narrative , which might suit vested interests, emerges , but the public gets to view “reality” from a distorted prism. This cannot be either salubrious or wholesome. The people deserve better and truth telling should always be upheld as a fundamental principle and postulate. However, attempts to stymie truth telling, privilege slanted perspectives and narratives, under this very principle. In the final analysis, truth is immune to control: it cannot be suppressed.  To take recourse to a clichéd axiom, truth always triumphs, no matter what. It is this axiom that powers that be must remember.

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