Journalism in Parlous Times

Journalism in Parlous Times
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Journalism, whether it be of the print, visual or even the contemporary electronic variety is an essential and an indelible part of any polity and society. The rather indispensable function of journalism is to hold a mirror to society and speak truth to power in the public interest and for public good. If journalism does not perform these vital functions, it then does not constitute journalism and, as a result, society suffers and stands impoverished. But, times have changed and are changing with the power political paradigms of many countries, deepening and widening polarizations of societies and polities. Consider the United States under Trump. The man could be said to be on a crusade to discredit, question and impugn mainstream media in the United States so much so that a term “fake news” has been popularized towards this end. Even in Europe, conditions do not augur well for journalism. Closer home, journalists work in perilous and parlous conditions. It is one thing to comment and debate conditions in cushy newsrooms where often times, without having an inkling of real issues on the ground and another to actually work in and under conditions of conflict. While, across the world, narrative and how it is crafted, designed and then presented is the name of the game, in and under conditions of conflict, this becomes more poignant. So, there is an inevitable and a rather natural tension between the media and power. But, this tension should not actually create conditions of stress or even worse for journalists and the media fraternity for, as is obvious at the risk of repetition, at the end of the day, if journalists are threatened, it is society that is disempowered, impoverished and stands to lose the most. Moreover, politics and media, especially in and during contemporary times, their tenor, complexion and nature are so potent that they can determine the political direction of societies but the feature of the relationship by its very nature has to be adversarial, all for the larger interests and good of society. This is what must be borne in mind by all and the space(s) journalism and the media fraternity thereof not be thrown out of kilter. Threats, blandishments should neither be bandied about nor be allowed to be issued. In the ultimate analysis, societal balance can only ensue when institutions and vocations like the media and journalism operate without fear, compulsion in the pursuit of highest standards of morality, ethics and public good.

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