Being a journalist with a career spanning over 17 years in local, national and international print, web and television media, it is too hard for me to write about a deteriorating scenario in journalism but I feel equally guilty to ignore this new low in present day journalism particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.
Therefore, I feel I have a moral obligation on my part to reveal some startling facts which I can’t sit over or ignore anymore. Even if authorities or stake holders do not act or tend to ignore the facts, I am still duty bound to make it public regardless of any impact or difference it may make on the ground.
They can’t even pronounce names correctly and show no mercy whatsoever to virtually butcher (or r….e) the language – Urdu, English or whichever language they choose to speak.
They make mess and mockery of reporting and do extortion and even character assassination under the garb of reporting or journalism. Even highly skilled and professional journalists feel embarrassed and almost run away, when they (Pseudo-journalists) appear on the scene of occurrence and start unleashing their talent with cameras rolling.
And still they do not only sustain but also thrive in the name of journalism. Even senior government officials entertain them and extend undue respect and space to them. Awful!
Since such journalists tend to put officials and even some senior bureaucrats in good light by becoming their PR agents, the officials tend to ignore the legitimate journalists, when they need them most for the official versions.
And in a place like Jammu and Kashmir, it simply becomes suicidal to ignore or being unable to take official versions especially for a story that relates to law and order or peace and security related matters.
Having said that I must say it is unethical for a legitimate journalist to ignore official version come what may -as simple as that.
Where are we heading? Journalists have an important role in shaping the opinion of society at large, act as a watch dog and even force the government of the day to make necessary corrections and take corrective measures wherever necessary in the larger public interest.
Media is the fourth pillar of democracy. Isn’t it? For how long they (pseudo-journalists) would continue to ruin this prestigious profession under the garb of journalism and very much under the nose of authorities.
They have been given a long rope by their so-called editors, who don’t even know the spelling of JOURNALISM, not to talk of its’ meaning and ethics.
And yet they operate with much ease only to fulfill their ulterior motives.
Sadly, the authorities too have chosen to ignore the crap being posted on social media every now and then and let these people do whatever benefits them materially.
Tragically their unethical acts have discredited even the legitimate journalists with years long experience in one way or other.
And while doing their pseudo-journalism, they target many gullible people on one pretext or the other, successfully indulge in extortion and what not.
Such journalists even charge for highlighting the public grieviences. And worse, on occasion of government events or functions, they are offered transport facilities and even reportedly offered cash by officers to paint a rosy picture of their events or during their interviews.
But regardless of prevailing situation on the ground, they proudly call themselves journalists and entertain people (not inform or educate them) mostly on Facebook and YouTube.
Their FB profiles bio (status) are intended to impress everyone as they claim they have years long journalistic experience with leading media houses.
Not only this. They also indulge in character assassination to show one individual or a group superseding the other. You call a spade a spade. They can call a stone a spade and vice-versa and still get away because they are a unregulated lot.
Thanks to widespread social media platforms…They post or publish whatever satisfies them and in which ever manner they wish (vedio, text or a combination of both) and there is no authority to regulate them or their content.
And thankfully for them some naive people even share their content often devoid of any substance and offer appreciation through comments thereby unknowingly encourage them to pose more arrogantly before cameras to make matters even worse. This is called maximum use of FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Truly LIMIT LESS.
This is a typical demonstration of Yellow Journalism by these people masquerading as journalists. Some of them are self-styled editors of their own created FB news pages or websites. And some others no less than special correspondents of self-created and completely unregulated news pages on FB owned by their bosses.
They all carry colourful logos supported by long wires or cables to quickly post anything on air but not news, on their FB pages. And they don’t waste anytime to use FB LIVE option to the best of their abilities to vow more viewers.
Interestingly, most of them are a complete package. They are their own editors and they act as reporters and analysts too.
This is a new low in journalism and it cannot get worse than this.
Even some so-called journalists have made a hell lot of money by exploiting poor and homeless people by seeking donations for their survival posing on camera with all humility.
At times they do not even spare minors of such helpless families and guide them to make frantic appeals for donations (cash and kind) but most of it to be used for their own (story creator’s) material benefit.
In such emotionally charged stories, such journalists allegedly even offer their own bank accounts and not the accounts of beneficiaries for collecting donations.
My teachers and senior journalists like Mr. Muzamil Jaleel, Mr. Mufti Islah and some others have maintained silence over the prevailing situation compelling me to write about this worsening scenario.
I am sure they (Mr. Muzammil and Mr. Islah) must be aware of the prevailing scenario but I wonder why they did not at least express concern over this new low in present day journalism in J&K.
What maximum or minimum legitimate journalists can do to save this profession, I don’t have a good idea about it. But at least they can raise concerns over this deteriorating scenario to make people and authorities aware of grave dangers of misuse of journalism by these people.
Worryingly they are not a few but probably a few hundred in number patrolling like foot soldiers on the streets and towns with cards, cameras and mics on full public display to attract more and more people. And their number continues to grow.
Leave a degree, diploma or certificate course in Journalism apart, how well read the FB journalist are is self-explanatory or evident for one to judge by their language and body language before cameras.
Some of them have hired writers to put FB captions on their brutally compiled often long duration stories and if they attempt to write a headline or caption on their own, they would simply turn facts upside down.
Come Independence-Day or any such occasion, these pseudo journalists would be the first to be invited by officials mostly at district levels and even awarded for their ‘enormous’ work!