Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
singhbj singh

Once upon a time, the pen was mightier than the sword

Recommended Posts

Once upon a time, the pen was mightier than the sword

Newspapers and magazines, the honest upholders of journalistic ethics in the past, are today falling in the trap of lucre.
October 10, 2017, Issue 19 Volume 14
 

India ShootingIn the present era of false, fake and paid news, it is important that we go back in time and learn from the journalism of yesterdays. In the good old days when the print media was the main source of information, it was expected to highlight the shortcomings of the mighty and the plight of the wronged that the ordinary could not challenge.

Profession of editors of newspapers and their reporters existed only to solve particular hard problems with deep truths about the world that benefitted the society in general. And all those associated with the newspapers had a professional outlook.

Whenever the editor or any writer put the pen to paper, it was with the sole intention of correcting some wrong somewhere. It was hard to believe that any printed material that was not professionally produced could affect the common man in any way. Only those for whom it was more than just a job qualified to be known as professionals. Educated men who read newspapers had a lot of faith in their authenticity, particularly English language newspapers.

Newspaper clippings were often attached with case documents for fighting legal cases in courts and judges took special note of the published material. Those were also the days when the level of education and status of a family in small towns was decided by the language of the newspaper it subscribed to. Those who got the English newspaper at their homes were looked upto in society and others would go to them to verify examination results of universities or confirm certain important news which had direct impact on their lives. Undivided Punjab particularly depended entirely on a particular newspaper for all the news and views.

Print was a very powerful medium in the good old days and it was used for the benefit of society. In recent times, it has become a far more powerful tool which is misused to suit the will of powerful people. Like all such tools it is a double-edged weapon; it gives information but also gives wrong or distorted information. Economic imperatives of production and distribution of newspapers have overtaken the concern for the problems of society. This is because of two reasons.

 

First, any media organisation, like any other business entity, cannot survive without making profits and to do that most of its strategic decisions must be guided by marketing considerations. Second, it must tow the policy of the owners (usually big business houses) who must please certain type of people and powers to get enough advertisements and other favours to stay in business. It is well-known that what is published in majority of the newspapers/magazines and what is shown by TV channels is mostly dictated by the marketing considerations of readership and TRP. News of rape and murder find front page headlines and martyrdom of a soldier gets relegated for the same reason.

I had the opportunity to interact with the owners of a vernacular newspaper very well-known in the Hindi heartland when they wanted to enter the Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh markets. They were looking for budding journalist and had sought my help as I was then the Principal of a Chandigarh-based institute imparting training in journalism. Their views were very clear. They wanted to focus on the lower strata of society — rickshaw–pullers, vegetable vendors, small shopkeepers, construction labourers and the like. This was not because of any compelling compassion for them but because that was what was recommended by the marketing strategists.

Today, the brief given to the reporters of newspapers is to ‘generalise, simplify and don’t take too much of space’. Obviously, the common man who reads the newspapers, magazines, etc. gets only the filtered and edited version of any situation.

Different people have different views on what comprises news which should be published and what should not be published in a newspaper. But most people would agree that certain things and events which should happen but don’t and others which should not happen but do happen, become news. If this definition is accepted, then there is bound to be more negative news than positive. And in any case, negative news finds more readership as it attracts the attention of every reader.

Take for example the case of Tiger Woods, Rajat Gupta or RK Pachauri . Many people heard of them only after they were in the news for the wrong reasons, their outstanding contribution totally forgotten. Some newspapers take pride in breaking news about the wrong doings of the high and mighty and everything that is rotten because in the race for readership if they are not the first to report these someone else would be and that will hurt them in more than one way. It is a different issue that in this race of outsmarting each other, many newspapers overstep probity and journalistic ethics.

Many a times the print media reports speculations, projections and even rumours as facts because of many compulsions, obviously not known to the reader. To lend credibility to what is published many newspapers hire or even recruit ‘suitable’ writers for writing the reports. ‘Experts’ are expected to step in at the right time to support what must be seen by the readers as facts.

Newspapers often write or publish what fits in the policy of the management, meaning thereby that the editor can publish anything and no one except the owner(s) of the newspaper can question him as long as it is within the policy of the newspaper. This phenomenon often results in ‘all the news that is fit to print’ becoming ‘all the news that fits’. And if someone does question the correctness of the report, the newspaper can always publish a two-line regret on the 7th page which is sure to go unnoticed but is enough to take care of any legal hassles.

If you still feel you should believe everything written in the newspapers and magazines you read, you shall do it at your own peril. Happy reading!

letters@tehelka.com

http://www.tehelka.com/2017/10/once-upon-a-time-the-pen-was-mightier-than-the-sword/?google_editors_picks=true

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

  • Topics

  • Posts

    • Bro, how the hell is that ego!?! Didnt you read what i said??? My AVASTHA IS REALLY STRONG!! That means I have almost conquered my ego. I have all these great achievements. They didnt just come out of no where. Clearly i had no ego since i was born bro. Im a prodigy. A god damn PRODIGY! A gem for the sikh community. You should be lucky to have me around. I have NO EGO!!! People have so much respect for me. I will go sachkhand when i die. Watch!
    • Anyone with half that avasta would be having the exact answers to all those questions.  If they have memorized banis they would know exactly which one yo recommend. 
    • Court directs Google India to remove videos on Sikh Gurus The court restrained Google India Pvt Ltd from uploading or publishing any video or article containing hate speeches and derogatory remarks against any religion, in particular against Sikh gurus and the religion india Updated: Nov 02, 2017 20:59 IST A Delhi court on Thursday directed the Google India Pvt Ltd to remove within a week certain videos and articles allegedly containing hate speeches and derogatory remarks against Sikh religion and its gurus on YouTube, Facebook and other websites. Civil Judge Jasjeet Kaur, during in-chamber proceedings, passed an ex-parte interim injunction (restraining order), noting that prima facie it appeared that Sakshi Bhardwaj, the person who allegedly uploaded videos, had made derogatory remarks against Sikh Gurus and their family members. According to advocate Gurmeet Singh who had sought an ex-parte injunction on a plea moved by one G S Wali, the court said the followers of Sikh faith were likely to feel grave insult to their religious sentiments by continued circulation of such videos of on social media. Moreover, social harmony and law and order situation was likely to get adversely affected, if Google India Pvt Ltd was not restrained from publication of the derogatory videos, the court is believed to have said. The court restrained Google India Pvt Ltd and its officials from uploading or publishing any video or article containing hate speeches and derogatory remarks against any religion, in particular against Sikh gurus and the religion. The court also directed Google India to remove all the videos featuring Bhardwaj, which were already in circulation on social media platforms within seven days. Singh told the court that hate speeches were in circulation on the social media for several days and were likely to spread communal disharmony. He also alleged that Google India had refused to remove the offensive videos of Sakshi Bhardwaj from YouTube, its subsidiary, without intervention of the court. The court also issued notice to the Google India and Delhi Police Commissioner on the plea and posted the matter for further hearing on November 22. The petitioner has also sought a direction to the Delhi police to form a a team to keep a check on the social media to prevent the uploading of any such video.  
    • 100-yr-old dies waiting for justice for 24 years Amar Kaur had deposed against ex-Punjab DGP Saini     Satya Prakash Tribune News Service New Delhi, December 12 Amar Kaur, who had been waging a legal battle to get justice for her son, son-in-law and driver — not seen again after allegedly being kidnapped by former Punjab Director General of Police SS Saini almost 24 years ago —died here on Tuesday. Kaur (100) had been bed-ridden for a decade due to brain stroke. Amar Kaur had deposed against Saini in a Delhi court while being in a wheelchair supported by an ambulance almost a decade ago. She had sent a telegram from her bed in Moolchand Hospital to the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court on July 8, 2011, requesting him to fast track the trial and hold day-to-day hearings so that she could get justice in her lifetime and her soul could rest in peace. “I have lost everything today. My mother could not get justice in her lifetime. The judicial system should not drag on a case for such a long time that people die waiting for justice. No person, howsoever powerful, should be allowed to misuse the system to unnecessarily delay a trial,” her son Ashish Kumar  said, breaking down inconsolably. Her businessman son Vinod Kumar, son-in-law Ashok Kumar and driver Mukhtiyar Singh never returned home after being picked up by the police in Ludhiana and Chandigarh on March 15, 1994. A criminal case was registered against Saini and others by CBI on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1994.    The case was transferred to Delhi by the SC in 2004 after Kaur expressed apprehension that Saini might use his might to influence witnesses.
    •   Jis kou raakhay Saeea, tis kou maar na sakay koee. Forgiveness, tolerance, humility, are the outcome from spiritual progress, if any, but surely not ego, anger or hatred. If such is the state of negativity, then surely, all that one thinks about oneself so much, it is all "baraham". Before cursing anyone, be careful, for if that person takes shelter in Wahiguru´s kirpa, that very curse, may come back as a boomerang....better give blessings if you ever want to give anything, that may do more benefit on the other person, as well as on yourself. Stay blessed. Sat Sree Akal.  
×