By “Journalism” I mean that which is regarded as the fourth pillar of democracy. This journalism is neither about abilities of expression and fluency, nor about making loud noises while sitting in studios. Rather, it is a means of providing information based on facts which citizens need to improve their lives, their societies, and their rulers. For that reason, journalism is essential in a democratic nation. Journalists should be fair, objective and truthful in order to point out failings without fear and favour.
A journalist’s job is to report the facts and opinion of others. One’s own views should be left out of the story. But journalism as is being practised in India these days is lacking all such objectivity. In fact, journalism in India is under attack by journalists themselves. One cannot deny that there are some good journalists who are making tireless efforts for bringing transparency and accountability in this institution. A few have even sacrificed their lives in order to safeguard this critical institution.
But, mostly, the institution of journalism in India is losing its credibility due to many reasons:
Some journalists aren’t doing justice with their profession. It’s never about reporting news; it is always about making money for themselves! They do not give their subordinate reporters any freedom. They are always under peer pressure to report only that which the powers that be want to see or hear.
A large number of cases involving paid news are coming to the fore. Some journalists are hell bent on promoting religious polarisation and hatred. We see media houses giving much coverage to Hindu-Muslim conflicts but not any importance to real issues being faced by citizens of the country. Some journalists are only promoting their business, as is evident from the recent “TRP scam” in which Television Rating Points have been manipulated.
Surveys have shown that news content regarding issues of agriculture, employment, education and environment forms a meagre part whereas politics, sports, crime and entertainment dominate the news. So, one could say, there is a lot more that our nation needs to know but is being kept from.
Both good and bad journalism has an impact on the nation and its citizens.
The growing crisis in journalism in India requires a debate on why it has failed to perform the tasks it is supposed to in a democratic nation? What can journalists do to improve the trust deficit in their work? Why have journalists lost the high stature they were accorded in society?