Journalism in Perilous Times

Journalism in Perilous Times

These are perilous, parlous and precarious times for honest and non partisan journalism. This assertion is validated and corroborated by the murder of an intrepid and feisty journalist, Gauri Lankeshwar, a few days ago. Closer home, a photojournalist Kamran Yusuf has been slapped with charges of being a stone-pelter and is in the crosshairs of the NIA. Broadly and generically speaking, media in India- barring very few hold outs- has been mellowed down and operates in consonance with the ideological flavor of the times. All this is as ominous as can be and, among other things, reflects a low tolerance for dissent. As spaces of dissent choke and dry up, an ideological and political conformity has set in. The media or the fourth estate, not only is in the nature of a corrective to power but also gives the masses access and latitude to a diversity of opinion. But powers that be appear to view control of the narrative as something that should be managed. This, especially, in the context of a conflict zone, can only be insalubrious. Choking spaces for and of dissent can neither change underlying realities nor create conditions for what Kashmir needs most: a conflict resolution paradigm that redounds to the good, interests and aspirations of all stakeholders. Moreover, control of narrative(s), whether in Kashmir or elsewhere, can only create artificial conditions divorced from reality. Returning to the cold blooded and cowardly murder of Gauri Lankesh, it is a sobering and eloquent reminder of the times we live in. The reference here is to the vituperative and vile comments by many on social media about the murder of the intrepid and feisty journalist. Instead of condemning the murder, many in India took to social media and not only condoned the murder but also spoke unsparingly of the deceased journalist in vulgar and ungainly terms. The motive of Gauri’s murderers appears to have been to silence her and thereby dissent. In the ultimate analysis, the larger aim is to drive dissent out of the way and make truth a casualty. However, truth is truth, it has a potency and significance that is more powerful than its antonym and opposite. It can neither be silenced nor driven underground. The potency of truth, in the final analysis, outlasts those who are against it and as well as those who become victims for holding aloft the flame and banner of truth.

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