The profession of journalism is in danger today. The continuous compromise with the ethics has turned this profession into less 'pro' and more 'fashion'.
Journalism, a profession of recording events, collecting, organising and presenting information, and creating awareness. Journalism is a word which when strikes with ears, starts forming images of newspapers, headlines, journalists holding mics, in our mind. Visuals come in mind when we hear the word journalism.
The profession of journalism depends on communication. In simplest form, journalism is communicating information. Human communication started when early man used sign language to pass on information. In old days, word of mouth was the only source of news or information. But the news took a long time to reach people through word of mouth. With the passage of time and development, human beings invented newspapers, TV, mobile networks, online platforms to pass on information. Now, the information reaches millions with a single click. (the article continues below)
Journalism has its own history in every Nation. Newspaper publishing started in every country according to the needs of that country. In some Nations like India, business and fight for Independence was the main reason newspaper publishing started. Newspapers used to criticize policies of British rule. In some nations, newspapers remained the mouthpiece of government, and in some other nations newspapers started for politics. The common objective to start newspaper publishing was to create awareness among people about what the newspaper is writing. Slowly, newspaper reading and publishing started all over the world which led to the development of journalism as a profession.
With the development of a profession, its code of conduct and ethics also develop. The profession seems to be in danger when the professionals compromise with the ethics. The same is happening with journalism. The present scenario of media and journalism is a matter of worry. This is due to the increasing sensationalization, politicalization, commercialisation and agendas run by the media these days.
Today, sensationalization is the biggest problem in the media, especially in India. Sensationalization is presenting a news story in a way to attract more and more viewers or readers. It is a repetitive presentation of the same news story with gaudy graphics and loud voice. The news can be of less public importance. It is unethical and unprofessional practice of media. Continuous broadcasting of repetitive news with gaudy graphics and loud voices of anchors creates irritation among people towards the media and frames a negative image of journalism. It is mostly done by private channels and It provokes people against the media. The level of negativity can be understood by the ban imposed by Nepal on many Indian private channels for sensationalization, objectionable content and concocted stories. There are several cases of aggressive and low level media reporting in Supreme court as well as in high courts. The courts are telling star journalists not to be aggressive during anchoring and talk with patience.
Daily we are witnessing the lowest level of reporting done by star anchors. Journalists eager to interview departed soul's relatives themselves create haterism against the media. The reporting done by media in an Indian actor's suicide case raised questions on the training of journalists. The inhuman reporting, gaudy headlines and concocted stories about the actor led many private channels to stand in court as guilty and forced Indian authorities to take strict actions against them. However reporting by crossing all boundaries is not a new thing. Many channels have reported like this in the past. Once, Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ordered a channel off air for 24 hours in case of limitless reporting during a terrorist attack which helped terrorists indirectly.
Politicization of channels is another matter of worry and this problem is not restricted to a particular country. These days most of the channels have political parties backing them and channels are earning from fundings of political parties. In return they run their agenda in the favour of that political party. This game of politicisation and agenda indicates that the media is suffering from commercialisation where truth is on sale for the sake of money. Media commercialisation gave insight into its lowest level when Indian police arrested many and was about to arrest a private channel's celebrity editor and journalist for using illegal means to increase the channel's TRP. It raised questions on real TRP of the channels. For how long channels will be involved in TRP scams to attract the advertising market of millions.
Increasing interference of the corporate sector in media and fake news are again major problems in journalism which are showing drastic effects on society. Buying of private channels by the corporate sector is a barrier in free press. The problem of Fake news is a matter of worry at global level. Growing Mob lynching cases in india due to fake news are alarming governments to take strict actions. A wrong tweet by a senior journalist about the demise of the former Indian President also raises questions on cross checking done by the media.
In the game of commercialisation, sensationalization, agenda setting, politicisation and TRP scams, the real issues are somewhere lost. Media has forgotten its real objective and has set some other objectives for personal gains. The real issues like poverty, unemployment, education, development, environment, homelessness etc. are overlapped by political agendas, party promotions, biased and paid news, and useless content. The channel debates do not aim at reaching at a solution but the panelists participating in these debates aim at putting each other down. All this has made the profession of journalism less 'pro' and more 'fashion'. The level of journalism can be judged by a court statement in which the court said that traditional government media was far better than the modern private media.
In the largest democratic country of the world, there is government of the people, for the people, by the people and the media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy. The maker of Indian Constitution, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar has given Indian media the rights of a normal Indian citizen with some duties. But today, the media is fully enjoying its rights without properly doing its duty. In order to make a democracy successful, an informed citizen is must. Media is the only force behind a well informed citizen. Media is a link as well as the voice of the public and government. In a developing democratic nation the media have a lot of responsibilities towards the society and nation. Media is the voice of people and it has the responsibility of creating awareness among people regarding government policies, dicissions, schemes, plans. It is the media's responsibility to make people aware about government working and discuss pros as well as cons of government schemes, decisions, policies etc. During British rule Indians used newspapers to create awareness about independence. Awareness was the aim due to which Indian journalism started. But today, it is sad to see that journalism has lost its aim of 'awareness' and turned towards 'agenda'. In democracy, an anti ruling party channel is far better than a channel that advocates the ruling party.
The future of journalism and media is in deep danger. Today, when there is a strong need for honest and serious journalism, the media has shifted its aim from awareness to agenda. Everyday people are expressing their anger against the media's unethical, aggressive and wrong working by trending hashtags like 'RIP media'. The judiciary is expressing its anger during hearings of cases related to the media. The growing anger against the media states that there is a strong need to change working of media and make strict rules for working in the profession as it is a profession of responsibilities. Journalists should rise above commercialisation, TRPs and agendas and not compromise with ethics.
At the end, the question arises - What is journalism? Is sensationalising the news with a loud voice called journalism? Is running an agenda and advocating a political party for some money, called journalism? Is using illegal means to increase TRP called journalism? Is compromise with ethics called journalism? Is putting the truth on sale called journalism? The answer is - No. Journalism is something that is in human interest. Journalism is something that serves the people. Journalism removes the curtains of blindness and exposes truth in front of the public. Journalism is a power that creates awareness and 'Defends' democracy.
(1) Unethical practices of media (Politicisation and others)
(2) Nepal bans Indian media
(3) wrong reporting and court hearing in actor's death
(4) TRP scam
(5) Ndtv ordered off air by an Indian ministry
(6) Wrong tweet/news by a senior journalist
(7) Court compared private media with government channel (doordarshan)
(8) Mob lynching due to fake news
(9) Image credit