Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shouldn't journalists be only reporting?

Before writing this post, I was just checking the definition of a journalist. Wikipedia says
A journalist collects and disseminates information about current events, people, trends, and issues.
This means that a journalist should convey the train of events in a manner that they have occurred. A journalist should not be colouring the report with his or her own opinions or political leanings. That, I guess would be the forte of a good journalist. And the job of colouring events with opinions should be left to analysts, is what I feel.

But now-a-days, journalists are trying to become analysts themselves. News channel reporters go over the top in making conclusions in less than 30 seconds. The Times of India is known for its pro-Congress stance. Being pro-Congress is fine, but it is anti-BJP. And hence, its reporters, and probably editors too, try to paint every reaction of a BJP leader in a way so as to prove that Congress is much better than the BJP. Just see this headline-
Congress did not initiate anti-Sikh riots in 1984: Gadkari
The headline meant to say that the BJP has exonerated the Congress from its role in the anti-Sikh riots. Subtly, it means that the BJP is withdrawing from its earlier stand, which maintained that the Congress party members actively supported the riots. And hence, trying to show that the BJP is a party which flip-flops on its stand.

But, read the interview carefully, and you will realise that Nitin Gadkari has never made such a statement. The statement Gadkari made, in reply to a question was

"Look, some people might be involved in those riots but it would not be entirely correct to say that the riots were initiated by the government."

This statement never ever has the same meaning as the headline. While the journalist writing this report may feel that the headline justifies the content, it is his/her opinion. And that is precisely what a journalist should not be doing. That is a columnist's job. Leave that to them, else they will have to find new avenues to work. But will our media, affected by the "breaking news" syndrome, ever improve? They do not have to go too far. Just read BBC's website and see how they write their headlines. No sensationlisation at all. And the same is true about BBC News. The reporters are one of the most objective ones, the news readers never take sides. But our media is trying to model itself along the Fox-News type of reporting. More sensation than content. And the print media too, is going along the same lines. The fourth estate of the democracy should not be influenced by political leanings, but should be objective in its work. Let people form their opinions. You need not force yours onto them.

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1 comment:

  1. Ah! tell me about Times' headlines. Sometimes reading the headlines alerts me to the content within. And it's not only Times but many others as well. The paper often argues that people love sensationalism and that is why they cater to it. This argument falls limp as today's audience is aware and informed. They critically analyse and sift through news. Don't you think so?

    Long time, Vinay. Hope yo are well :)

    Joy always,