When I was studying journalism & mass communication at Punjabi university Patiala an editor of Dainik Tribune visited us to share his views. You would be aware that since journalism have been more of a trade or a business rather than profession therefore majority of journalist are self taught guy who prefer to toe the line than challenge the authority. This editor from Chandigarh made a remark, which he thought was pretty innocent normal.
He said-When we (media) take government side then the readers protest and when we raise the voice of people the government dislike it. I couldn’t help myself asking him to explain such a loaded statement coming from an editor of pro-govt newspaper establishment. He looked confused to why I was asking to explain a rather routine remark. When I told him that he said could virtually imply that the democracy in India has failed. He was stunned, began to look in the direction of the faculty as if pleading with them to make me shut up. But faculty members in Indian universities generally don’t mess with students who read more than them.
How could there be inverse relationship between aspirations & opinions of the citizens in a democracy to the government policies programs? If the government don’t want media to question them to wake them up to the views of the citizens then what is the role of media? India can’t be a North Korea clone due to size and history. When media becomes government stooge it’s the end of democracy and beginning of the end of those regimes.
Recently when Pakistan government tried bullying Cyril Almeida, majority media professionals including Hamid Mir of Geo stood up with Cyril against the government. Unfortunately majority Indian media don’t have such strong spines as our friends in Pakistan. India media have earned the adage of-Crawling when indicated to bend-long ago. Therefore its pleasant surprise to see Ravish Kumar of NDTV-India cock a snook at modi sarkar in his nonchalant inimitable sober style to protest against one day ban on the channel for coverage of the Pathankot airbase attack. NDTVIndia is just another channel having no unique access to the spot or reported anything that most other channels didn’t but it is singled out for the punishment.
NDTV India has the brand positioning of mild mannered, centrist, balanced, sans theatrics channel amongst sea of noisy pseudo hindu-nationalist channels, some of them purveys mythologies than facts in the race to please Hindu fundamentalist RSS and the government run by its cadres.
Cyril Almeida belongs to minority community in Pakistan but received complete support of the majority community to save him from government high handedness. But NDTV India seems to be in modi sarkar crosshair due to its refusal to toe the RSS line showing minorities in poor light. No one is surprised at one day blackout ban on the channel. It’s shocking to see how the RSS led government could act in such predictable manner and bring more negative publicity? Many thought RSS would rope in some educated people to guide it post stunning win in 2014.
Journalism students have choice they can be Arnab Goswamy of @TimesNow and be a voice of Hindu fundamentalist sections , a Ravish Kumar of @NDTVIndia who stands for the idea of India. You can chose cacophony or civil debates. Let me caution that it’s easy to be an Arnab Goswamy as most people can speak loudly but very difficult to be Ravish Kumar because you can’t be him without reading lots of books regularly. Arnab Goswamys would come and go but Ravish Kumar would be discussed in mass communication classrooms for decades.