In the online blogosphere there is a furore about the close nexus between politicians and journalists. In newsrooms fellow journalists are seen shaking heads, talking in hushed tones about what seems to them like the scandal of the century. Amongst cynics and the envious haven’t beens of the scribe tribe, the ‘I knew it would come out some day’ smirk can’t be missed. In fact such has been the impact of these revelations that a closed coterie of editors who conspicuously stayed away from escalating the crisis further, have come out in full force on various televised debates thrashing their peers, strident, smug and very dismissive of the shenanigans of their comrades.
To put it simply it’s become a case of crows eating crows. The media is getting cannibalistic!
In a shrill, opinionated and often sensational Indian media, this sounds scary. Imagine what they’d inflict upon themselves, when an error on part of others results in nothing less than a live studio trial? In this case, as one eminent editor noted, the journalist is the jury, judge and the accused.
While none of this augurs well for India’s reputation as a free country with a strong fourth estate, especially given the fact that the media continues to remain a vital force in uncovering scams & giving voice to the voiceless; it seems to me a bit ludicrous that we expect journalists to be detached from institutions of power, particularly at a time when the lines between PR, marketing & reportage are so quickly and knowingly blurring.
Can we continue to expect unbiased, gritty journalism to remain a certainty when our motives & vested interests are so radically at loggerheads with the whole concept of understanding truth?
Why not look at this entire issue a bit more pragmatically? Are we really interested in the reality anymore? We live in times where corporate interests are buying out minority stakes in the same business networks that are supposed to report their misdoings. Politicians are running 24*7 broadcast stations promoting their own interests and advertisers & the media are deeply engaged in this new-age barter system that defies every tenet of the journalistic rulebook.
We also live in an era where propaganda machines are on autopilot mode through a barrage of logos and brands and trademarks. So difficult has it become to distinguish real from fake that at a friend’s brilliantly orchestrated, almost movielike wedding recently I wondered whether it was cinema that mirrors reality or is it actually vice versa.
It is all a big charade. Let us accept it instead of acting all sanctimonious and moralistic about whether a journalist should engage in political lobbying or not. We are all in some way or the other endorsing lobbies and vested interests by being a part of the prevalent system.
Trust me, when money is at stake, decorum almost always, goes flying out of the window.