Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New Breed Journalists: Making Nuisance Of The Newssense

Every day and now, I get calls from the people searching for jobs in the electronic media, say categorically TV media. No one seems interested in the radio and forget about print. Almost all of them are the new breed of fresh journalists coming out of the media institutes and universities in bulk who want to be taken in any TV channel as anchor or reporter. The last day I got a same call from a newcomer who did her internship in Aaj Tak and wanted to get absorbed somewhere as Reporter in Delhi. When I directed her to Star News, she asked the address of the channel office and didn't knew about the DLF building in Connaught Place. When I asked her that how she will be going to work as a reporter if she didn't knew the basics of geographical locations. She just said, "Wo sab to ho jata hai Sir!"

Now, as she has spend more than two Lakhs in Amity, she was not ready to work in less than 12k p.m. Now, where is the merit? What is the basis for this huge demand? Huge in the sense that most of the capable print journalists manage to get over 10 k p.m. in three to four years span of their journalistic career. There is a huge imbalance between the pay structure in print and TV. Although, one will be surprised to know that all the TV channels are headed by those people who have basically come from print. But the thing which upsets this scenario is their choice of the candidates. I know that this girl will get through her unemployement in a short span of time and cross me after one year in monetary terms, then never look back to me as if the print people are the most louzy creatures on this earth.

This is not a complaint, neither to cry over the difference between print and TV. Rather, we are more concerned about the output which is being given by these young chaps who spend two Lakhs and get easy entry into the important outlets of social responsibility. Their selection has a huge impact on the content and form of the whole TV media. Let's forget about the structural aberrations, but we as journalists are always accountable for the news items, their selection, their rundown and priority, visuals shown and the images left out. If we are not taken in on the basis of our journalistic understanding and a minimum level of humanistic morality, then the social responsibility theory of the media gets shattered to the finest level. Whenever we talk of the media's responsibility, let's never forget about these new entraints who are the most responsible factors in dilapilating the news.

But, remember, their heads are also equally responsible for this crime. Just to cite some examples. The newcomers are never told by their seniors to understand the difference between naxalite, terrorist and banned outfits. They are never told the difference between CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and other communist parties. They can never know if they are not told that what is the full form and difference of S.H.O. and S.O. Go and ask any crime reporter the hierarchy in the police department. You can easily check this out. Nowadays, reporters covering the reservation issue are now and then using the term Mandal Comission. Just ask, how many of them know who was Mr. Mandal and what he did that put the country on fire? You can easily check this out also.

So, the crux is that, there must be an informal training of the newcomers in the media group which they join by the heads of those organisations. This would firsthand increase the collective responsibility of the media group, secondly clear the common minimum agenda of the the group and last but not the least, help to create loyal journalists. Our senior journalist and writer of daily Hindustaan Mr. Rajendra Dhodapkar was once telling me the story of the golden days of daily Jansatta when Prabhash ji and Banwari ji went abroad for more than a month without handing over the responsibilities to anyone and the newspaper ran smoothly and responsibly without any hurdle. Prabhash ji is a journalist as well as a trainer in the sense that, as Mr. Dhodapkar accepts, " We are all children in front of him because today also, he keeps on teaching us the basic tenets of journalism and most importantly, requirement of the freedom of a journalist."

It's not like setting standards like Jansatta of those days in the news channels, but at least we must help our colleagues and newcomers in keeping them aware of their social responsibility as a journalist. So that next time, when Nepal arises from the shackles of supression and someone comes from news channel to cover the rally at Jantar Mantar, we must not hear the questions like....Sir, please first of all tell me what's happening in Nepal? Yes...a byte carrier(I call TV reporters by this name only) from Sahara samay asked this question exactly the same way and the person who was standing in front of the gunmike got amazed. He was in dilemma...what to say. Not only this, even, a new journalist from Jansatta was heard saying Nepal and North-East are same. He had to take an interview on the insurgency in North-East and the person he chose was the senior journalist Anand Swaroop Verma. When I told him that Verma ji specialises on Nepal issue, I came to hear this nonsense from him. This was the nuisance of the newsense.

Do you also want to keep this nuisance going on? If no, and certainly no, then come out with some suggestions so as to build a pressure on the key people sitting in media groups to keep an eye on these nuisances being played by there subordinates and correct them. Waiting for the same.........

Abhishek Srivastava


Vasu the terrible said...

hey abhishek,

I am no journalist, but I believe journalism is a mixture of researcher + story teller..

Solid research and the ability to tell a coherent story.

I found your perspective interesting though a little idealistic.

Today the input cost of education across the board has gone up and money is a key factor in determining career. Journalism is also prey to this phenomena.

But then, at the end of the day which organisation really tests someone for journalistic skills ? rathar most of them go by the same yardstick adopted everywhere.. a degree in journalism and where you come from.

Luckily the lines are blurring with online media exploding at such a fast rate.

blogs have become credible too.

things are constantly changing.


Abhishek Srivastava said...

I agree with your viewpoint, but some sort of idealism is very necessary, rather you must say inevitable for a profession like journalism. Without an ideal, you can't achieve the minimum goals in any profession or mission be it journalism or anuthing else.

Vasu the terrible said...


You are right about that and I agree on that. But I wasnt talking about journalistic idealism, but the way recruitment happens in media channels.

Corporations go based on projects, TRP numbers and bottomlines. Where is room for testing someone's journalistic ideal ? They want to roll out fast and overtake others, all kinds of people are mass recruited just based on weather they have a journalism degree or not.

I think therefore, there is still enough room for one more English news channel.

One which doesent care about TRP ratings, One which doesent try to ape competitors. Something which is solid, in-depth and incredibly credible.

One that doesent run around to get scoops and exclusives, but do a thorrough job of presenting a story.

And definitely one that doesent indulge in cheap SMS gimickry..

Its a parallell to what "The Hindu" is in the print media. Strong editorial quality. Impeccable and substanital.