Journalism: voice of the people or plot of power?
“In the age of the press being ‘the enemy of the people,’ we need to lend more transparency to how tough this is, and how we do our jobs.” says Aleszu Bajak, a professor of Journalism at Northeastern University. Storybench, a news site, created by the journalism department of the university aims at providing this transparency to the process of reporting: what is reported, how, and why it is done. However, it is worth questioning why journalism has come to become an enemy of the people. Is journalism a medium of free expression or a plot of power? The answer to this is the imperialistic hold of the society over the freedom of expression that enslaves and renders invisible an individual voice for the welfare of the “community”.
The thin line of difference between democracy and dictatorship is imperialism that rips apart a community into rungs of a ladder. However, in today’s scenario, democracy and dictatorship can be seen merging on the common ground of imperialism. One instance of this merge is the present politics of India. In 2019 Lok Sabha election, Bhartya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and regained the power through a mandate victory, winning almost all of the seats in the Lok Sabha. This saffron victory undermines the diversity of India and indicates a possibility of dictatorship (one man, one idea one ruler) in the offing, brandishing its overt Hindutva ideologies.
How does shifting democracy affect the idea of journalism?
While India is moving towards the one-ideology rule, journalism is subjected to severe scrutiny and censorship because of its potential to flouting the ideology and initiate a change through its access to diversity. Journalism, which is inherently a medium to connect people with different community and the world, has become a medium to consolidate an isolated homogeneous community. The news channels like NaMo are the biggest examples of how the diversity and freedom of journalism are being mystified by the duty to serve power. Another crude example of enslaved journalism is the murder of the journalist and left-activist Gauri Lankesh. Lankesh was shot to death by ‘unknown’ assailants on 5th September 2017. Investigations have clearly proved that she was murdered for her critic against right-Hindu extremism. The murder was conspired by RSS people, who are responsible for such “sanitizations” of the society.
The picture of the enslaved journalism proves manipulated status of journalism as “enemy of the people”. Raising a voice against injustice is required to undergo a long procedure of censorship to make it clear of any radical element questioning the power itself. This swamped status of news media as nothing more than a puppet of the power is the reason why there is a need to provide transparency. It will provide a wider context to the story reported, rather than just a brief one-sided analysis. The reader, as Bajak says, “could read through how someone reported out the story or built the visualization”. A ground where there is a possibility of diversity, taking one side will be a difficult and thoughtful process. It will not only induce regards for journalism as a profession and a voice but will also provide critical grounding to the readers to not be easily swayed by the majority. Journalism is not a weapon of imperialism but a thread of universalism.