Since my childhood I wanted to be a journalist. I began my journey with an Urdu newspaper. Some of my first articles were about cricket. I wrote on cricket after watching it on TV and playing it with friends. Soon, I started working as a correspondent from my home town Raxaul.
After coming to the field of journalism, I realised how little I know about the world. My English was also very weak and I decided to study English Literature in my graduation. I knew even to be a good Urdu journalist, a knowledge of English is a must.
During my graduation days, I had learnt writing and speaking in English. Soon my articles were able to appear in Hindustan Times, Patna. They were published on the weekly youth page.
After the final year exam, I came to know about IIMC. The institute was said to be a prestigious place for studying journalism. I was able to qualify the entrance test and studied journalism for a year. From there I moved to a leading English daily and worked for one and half years as a reporter in Delhi.
But again I felt a need to study more to understand political and social issues. I decided to quit the job and spend some more time in higher education. From the newspaper office I landed up at university space. Here I spent a decade to complete my MA, MPhil and PhD.
So the first quality of a good journalist is to spend time with books. This does not mean that I do not give importance to field work. As an eminent India sociologist argues, there should be a harmony between the book view and field view. Today most of journalists do not feel an urge for reading. They consider it “little useful” in their profession.
The second good quality of a journalist is to incorporate all sides of story. In writing news, he should avoid mixing fact with opinion. He is free to express his opinion in oped piece but a wall of seperation between news and views should be maintained. This wall of seperation is demolished by media houses today.
The third quality of a journalist is to avoid sensationalism. Instead, He should report facts. The facts should be cross-checked. He should keep her language lucid and simple but the quality of content should not be compromised.
The fourth quality of a journalist is to be accountable to people. Particularly, he should keep the interest of the most downtrodden at the top. He is not “loyal” to the owner of the newspaper. Nor should he articulate the interests of a particular party or a leader.
The fifth quality of a journalist is to be ever ready to listen to people. He should not be not arrogant. He should try to understand thing that seems “incomprehensible” at first glance. A journalist sitting at the top of an organization should try to give voices to the marginalized sections. The newsroom and editorial zone should not be a monopoly of a few castes and the rich people. They should reflect the diversity of the society. The media should also be least dependent on government patronage and corporate advertisement.
Keeping these qualities and essential features in mind, you can now judge the standards of journalism today. Most of journalists in Indian media have brought shame to the profession. They are all neck deep in corruption and have failed to follow the abc of journalism.
When I see them I feel ashamed of being a journalist. They are not working as true journalists but are spreading lies and hatred all the time. Today such a gang of journalists poses a grave threat to the harmony of the society and state of democracy in the country.
Abhay Kumar is a PhD from JNU. Minority and Social Justice are areas of his interest. You may write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org