Journalism: Embracing new challenges in the changing times

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Amit Tiwari

Every new season marks the beginning of a new period which defines the transition from the erstwhile season long endured and spent in getting accustomed to the new changes. Once the season changes, one is ready for another set of changes.

Although every season has its own characteristic, it is essentially meant to give a new lease of life to all living creatures by rejuvenating their spirits. Journalism, in more than one sense, shares this quality of seasons in as far as it caters to the ever changing needs of society and keeps adapting itself to the changing perspectives and roles.

As The Avenue Mail completes its 21 years of glorious existence, the first English daily of Jharkhand too, has kept pace with the changing times and served well as the ever vigilant guard of society, ethics, journalistic values and a sense of preserving the long cherished values held aloft by numerous pioneers of the field.

Rarely had those among the tough and gritty journalists of yesteryears thought that a time would come when the media will be subjected to the scanning eyes of the society and made to stand in the dock to answer to questions about its integrity and the very purpose of its existence. Journalism in India saw its glorious years in the national struggle for freedom when ink alone was not sufficient to write on paper.

Blood, more than ink, spilled on the pages of numerous publications that were passed hand to hand under the nose of the tyrant British colonial regime. Then the spirit of nationalism that had swept the nation had kept at bay many vices that today seem to infect or rather infest media and its torchbearers today.

Shifting to the current times, the field of journalism faces challenges characteristic of the modern times. From East India Company which ran an authoritarian regime to suppress all protesting voices, today there are these multi-billion multi national companies (MNCs) that wield immense and unimaginable powers on national and state governments, leave apart the individual, who is but only an element from the gigantic and varied set represented by the society and media.

Just imagine how difficult it must be for a journalist growing in a fast developing and upwardly mobile world to stick to basic ethical tenets when almost all aspects of the society are so deeply influenced by consumerism promoted by these MNCs.

Be it education, health, banking, public utility, telecom, energy, public welfare or any other field, the extent and expanse of MNCs can be easily assessed.

It is huge and of far reaching implications. With so many stakes in the game, a journalist’s ideal role turns into that of a fair viewer-cum-judge. Although he is not entitled to pass a judgment, a journalist has to stick to his ethics and go ahead with his sense of righteousness to perform his pious duty. It is here where the role of a journalist is put to test. In recent few years, many journalists of renown in India have been put to this test.

Individual experiences could have varied, but in totality, the journalistic fraternity has seen many brows being raised over their sincerity and integrity. Like any other stale news, these incidents too, have been forgotten but have served to teach new lessons to the modern day journalist who too, can fall to personal ambitions, failings and pretensions like anyone else.

Journalistic values and ethics may be the choicest topic for seminars and workshops, but they are tested more often than not in individual cases. There cannot be an isolated sample space where ethics can be tested under simulated conditions.

Each and every journalist succeeds or fails singly for his feats or his failures in relation to the society and the world. Since the forces influencing a journalist are the real ones, the society cannot isolate itself from the media and cast aspersions on this essential and so characteristic an organ of the world. This means that pointing a finger at the media also means that some fingers are also pointed towards you.

This ‘you’ is each of us irrespective of our professions. In the times of citizen journalism, each of us is in the dock and each of us is the judge. It is solely our choice whether to correct ourselves or punish ourselves with the sentence of compromising with the lofty ideals of our forefathers who gave us our today unconditionally. If we dare, we can make our today a better tomorrow.

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