When I heard about Ravish Kumar resigning from NDTV’s news channel, everything went dark for me though it was a bright and sunny afternoon.
I have come to accept this darkness in the media world as I do the evening of my life.
There is no future to think about but the present and its reigning darkness.
With Ravish Kumar, Prannoy Roy and his wife gone, I wonder if the media would still say it is in two camps, pro and anti-Modi.
Were there any camps?
There was only one camp known as godi media; the other existed as a ploy to buy off criticism or to maintain some semblance of objectivity that media is free.
People pointed to Ravish Kumar and NDTV to show that it is free.
Can media be free if only one or two news media channels are anti-Modi?
One must have some sense of proportions.
In any bifurcation, there has to be a fifty-fifty division.
If two halves are not present, there is no division at all.
One half cannot be greater than the other.
A sixty-forty difference would be acceptable, as no division is perfect. If you stretch this to the seventy-thirty margin, it could be tolerable, but a ninety-ten, never.
Some even might say the division was even much less as to be defined as no division at all.
One swallow does not make a summer nor one or two news media channels opposing Modi and his government a fair division.
It is just one sold media that has catapulted to powers that be, hook, line and sinker.
You can call it godi media per se.
But for Ravish Kumar and Prannoy Roy, nobody would have ever known media sold itself out to the ruling dispensation.
Now even that pretence cannot be there.
Who will the godi media and supporters of PM Modi and the BJP point out to say media is free?
Perhaps, there will be no need for that anymore.
If nobody is there to pull up the government for its failure, the question of media not being free will never arise.
If the doctor cannot find the disease, how can he cure it?
It escapes understanding.
It is not to say Ravish Kumar was objective in his news reporting, having a few blemishes here and there.
He had resorted to anti-Modi and his government, nor can one say Prannoy Roy was not biased.
He had his leanings towards western media, and his television channel generally catered to westernised and a semi-westernised class of Indians who were products of public, missionary and convent schools that have come to be known as Lutyens Delhi.
People generally had a bias towards English-language newspapers, magazines and news television channels.
The Hindi journalists were looked down upon, got low salaries sat in dingy cabins, and even their editor-in-chiefs sat cramped in small rooms, compared to English journalists.
The English language journalist always got preference over them everywhere.
Even Hindi journalists, who were good at their work, turned mediocre when they switched to writing in English for money, gloss, glamour and respectability.
One must credit Arun Purie of India Today for providing some respectability to Hindi journalists by bringing out a Hindi version of India Today.
Its outreach was far more than any English-language newspaper or magazine.
During my perambulations in the countryside, I often found a copy of the Hindi version of India Today in the villages.
The situation has changed since then.
People do not subscribe to newspapers and magazines but watch news channels for that.
Herein lies the danger.
Television studios produce news.
As reported by Ravish Kumar, the ground reporting is zero.
Who will send reporters out in the field and incur a cost?
It is easy to concoct news in television studios.
If there is some coverage, it is through ill-paid freelancers and stringers in remote areas who take maximum risks to file reports.
If honest reporting exists, it does in areas far removed from the metropolitan cities in the outlying and backwaters of India.
The local journalists, who believe in honest journalism, risk their lives to collect facts and figures. For them, it is enough to do ground reporting to keep home fires burning.
They have no lavish lifestyles like their counterparts in national dailies or tv news channels who crawl if asked to bend.
Once you get used to the lavish style, public adulation, power and high visibility, you will do anything to protect it.
Journalists are attacking one another in public and social forums.
It has become a dog-eat-dog world.
Journalism ethics has been trashed completely with gusto.
I would still go with Ravish Kumar as I did.
I got into a scrap with someone recently.
The man had known Ravish Kumar since his college days at Delhi University as he was his senior and respected him. Ravish Kumar, he said, was objective and did a lot of homework before coming on Prime Time, and his series on jobs was good but biased in his reporting with an anti-Modi agenda.
When the country is aflame, you put out the fire before discussing other matters.
If not, there would be nothing left to protect.
He never got back to me after that.
It is to that level we have fallen.
Journalists have begun to live and thrive on lies and falsehood.
In Mrs Indira Gandhi’s time, we had a crusading journalist, Arun Shourie; in Modi’s, we had Ravish Kumar.
The latter will lose much of its clout, as did Barkha Dutt, another NDTV protege who came to be known as Maharani of Media. They will be crying in the rain because it can hide their tears.
I await the flames that will engulf me as I cannot stand this darkness in broad daylight.
Media is dead!
Long live media.
Rajendra Yadav is a free-lance writer, a blogger, and a member of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, a Spiritual Organisation, also an anti-child labour activist