Sunday, December 09, 2012

Journalism: on the cusp between what it was once and what it is now


It’s been quite a long hiatus…. this blog, I mean. Sometimes, or perhaps more often than not, you seem to think there’s little motivation to keep it going. So many things have been happening in the media, I sometimes wonder whether I did the right thing, switching over to journalism from a cosy job in the insurance industry. If I was still with United India, I might have been chief manager (which is saying something) and if I were with a private insurance company, I might have, well, been vice-president.

That is what some of my batch mates are today – why, there are one or two of them who are directors, so VP is really no big deal. The salaries can be mouth-watering for somebody like me. Most of my mates in the private sector draw not less than Rs 2 lakh a month! Well, it might not compare with the likes of a Sanat Hazra (Rs 2.7 crore a year) or a Jaideep Bose (Rs 4 crore-plus), both from The Times of India stable, but without a doubt you are in orbit.

Like V.S. Maniam (now settled in the US of A), formerly of The Statesman, who writes in his book, A life in Journalism, I have been a rolling stone gathering little moss. Now, of course, it’s a little too late in the day to salvage anything… but perhaps there is still a bit of pride left.

The Hoot editorial says it all. It’s a shame that Journalism has come to this pass, and I'm not talking about India alone. What the future will be, is anybody’s guess. But frankly, it’s like your honour is at stake. The lead articles that appear in the latest issue of The Caravan will not inspire those who are ready to join the profession. What’s television come to? Theatre of the absurd? I don’t think I'm interested in watching Arnab Goswami and News Hour any more.

May be I should put my energies and something worthwhile. Like, for instance, when the father of a friend of mine died suddenly a few days ago. He was past 80 and died a natural death. Yet, no ambulance was ready to ferry him to the hospital. And no doctor was willing to certify him dead. It was finally a relative’s friend, a doctor, who agreed to come by. Even in death, there seems little peace. The man hadn't harmed anybody, had done no wrong… yet. When will newspapers/ television devote their time and energies in covering such stories? 

The real India is oft forgotten or given a go-by. Why? Everywhere (save The Hindu, the Express and The Telegraph), and not necessarily in only The Times of India, the stature of the editor has diminished. It’s sad when you come to think of it. It’s perhaps indicative the way the world has changed. A journal such as Grassroots that I edit, is now closing its printed version because there are not enough advertisements. A shame really. Stories in every issue of it will warm the cockles of your heart. That’s life, it’s the sad truth we are faced with more often these days.




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