By: Dipak Kurmi
In the wise words of Warren Buffet, the intelligence of journalists profoundly impacts society, for a well-informed populace yields a better student body. Without journalists, we risk descending into an arrogant society devoid of policies and ideals. The media’s close bond with people intertwines with the interests of civilization. However, recent developments reveal a decline in the perception of the media as the fourth pillar of democracy, eroding its once strong position. Regrettably, respect for the media has waned among both the ruling and subject families in our province. Concerns loom over the safety of our local journalists, casting a shadow on the invaluable role they play in upholding the pillars of democracy and safeguarding society’s collective conscience.
In the distinguished countries of England and the United States, the media holds a paramount position, enjoying immense importance from both the governments and ordinary citizens. Regrettably, in our nation, the press has often felt neglected and lacks the attention it deserves compared to these leading nations. Journalists too find themselves yearning for proper recognition and status. This pervasive sense of insecurity casts a looming threat upon their financial well-being, property, and even their lives in our province. As we ponder the crucial role our journalists play in ensuring the security of public life and preserving psychological well-being, we must confront the pressing question of how they can fulfill this duty in an environment rife with extreme uncertainty and peril.
Undoubtedly, the media possesses the power to achieve what the police often struggle to accomplish in maintaining societal peace. The complex entanglements between the police and political leaders often give rise to chaos and arrogance within society, prompting the media to step in and mitigate these issues. Journalists hold a unique position, as few in society fear or disregard the printed word, enabling them to tackle intricate problems that the police administration may find challenging. Their role becomes even more crucial when exposing the hypocrisy of both the police and political leaders, holding them accountable to the people. As the media purges social waste from our midst, it cultivates a welcoming society. The unwavering dedication of journalists moves our society in the right direction, presenting incidents and accidents responsibly to the public, provided they have the security to do so. As Frank Murphy eloquently defined, freedom of the press equates to freedom of thought and action, and through this liberty, the media flourishes with healthy, robust opinions and freedom of speech, contributing to the country and society’s development.
In the ever-evolving landscape of journalism, two prominent forms stand tall: the traditional newspaper journalism and the dynamic audio-visual media journalism. At their core, both embrace a sacred commitment to truth-seeking, yet their noble duty goes beyond mere sensationalism. True journalism lies in the relentless pursuit of unbiased news, presented purposefully and responsibly. Sadly, in the relentless pursuit of commercial gains, some lose sight of this paramount purpose, prioritizing circulation and TRP ratings over the welfare of the nation. The perilous path of presenting ‘Views’ instead of unbiased ‘News’ can lead to one-sidedness, questioning the very essence of media’s role as a witness to truth. In these uncertain times, when allegiance to powerful interests threatens the integrity of journalistic integrity, one must ponder if this is how a nation’s defense works. Doubts loom over the sustainability of a media solely driven by commercial motives. It is a clarion call for journalism to reaffirm its true religion, a devotion to truth, and be the vanguard of information that empowers the nation and upholds the sacred principles of ethical reporting.
Amidst the uncertain terrain of media sustainability, doubts loom large, and Assamese journalism finds itself wandering astray. The weighty armor of impartiality seems to be cast aside as questions persist about the hindrances obstructing journalism’s progress. Regrettably, some in the government and society withhold the true reverence journalism deserves, favouring sensationalism over veracity. In this chase for spicier tales, certain journalists have unwittingly transformed into “news makers” rather than diligent gatherers of truth. Yet, a significant share of blame rests on the shoulders of financial insecurity. A profound challenge now arises for the media to rekindle the allure of journalism as a societal gem, wholeheartedly devoted to uplifting the country and its people, and to transcend the constraints plaguing its virtuous path.
Our journalists, particularly those operating in rural or suburban regions, frequently encounter a variety of challenges, some of which include:
- The absence of financial stability.
- Inadequate life and job security.
- The worrisome entanglement of politics and the declining standards of journalism.
- The rapid advancement of electronic media and technology presents strategic limitations.
- The pervasiveness and allure of corruption.
The Assamese media faces pressing challenges that demand swift action to surmount their impact on professional journalism. Striving for financial independence on one hand and upholding the sacred pursuit of truth on the other, it becomes a profound journey of purpose. As the revered politician Kennedy candidly recognized, constructive criticism and journalism are indispensable for governing a nation and ensuring its survival as a republic. The sanctity of the press, enshrined in the first amendment, signifies its vital role beyond mere amusement and entertainment, transcending the trivial and sentimental to serve as the vanguard of informed public opinion. In this age of interconnectedness, international news becomes local, necessitating comprehensive coverage and analysis. The printing press bears witness to humanity’s deeds, the guardian of its conscience, and the herald of news that shapes the course of a country. To fulfill this vital role, the media must embrace improved understanding and responsible dissemination of information, for indeed, it stands pivotal to the governance and prosperity of the nation.
May the path of healthy, resilient, and forward-looking journalism illuminate our province, guiding it towards genuine development while safeguarding the lives and work of our valiant journalists. With unwavering commitment to truth-seeking and responsible reporting, let this new era of media become the harbinger of progress, nurturing a society where information thrives, ignorance dissipates, and the seeds of a brighter future are sown.
May the words bear the weight of truth! (The writer is a journalist and commentator based in Guwahati, he can be reached at email@example.com)