A Pseudo Condolence or An Intense Grief

Hard time for Indian Journalism to cope up with ‘Corporateracy’, two untrained journalists killed in a Communal clash in Uttar Pradesh

Shahnawaz Alam for BeyondHeadlines

We should not be surprised over fateful killings of one IBN 7 journalists and a freelance photographer in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh.  Rajdeep Sardesai expresses his condolence on twitter saying “Rajesh and Irshad were their family’s breadwinners; good, honest Indians killed in line of duty. Killed by those who want to divide us. RIP.”

I don’t question his intentions to express his grievous mourn. In another tweet he simultaneously writes “Akhilesh govt must answer: from Faizabad to Bareilly to Muzaffarnagar: where is the state? and who is stirring the communal pot”. As of now you might be wondering to know who were these two Journalist killed, particularly their profile. So, here we have the answer, one was the freelance photographer Irshad who was hired by local police and other guy a stringer Rajesh.

Now you may easily infer who were actually these two killed. I mean what social background they share? What could be their socio-economic conditions and consequently you would get answer to many other questions.

A Pseudo Condolence or An Intense GriefRajdeep himself has given a gist of details about the two that they were the breadwinners of their family. I fully agree to his contention that honest Indians killed in their line of duty. Yet I slightly differ with the word ‘duty’ used. I would have no problem if he retreats his word duty to professional job. After all both Irshad and Rajesh were envisaged in doing an assigned job they were paid for. And the larger question here arise that how much professionalism they held both in terms of institutional training and conflict reporting.

It inevitably important to note here that how they could have avoided this fateful casualty of losing their life on a professional duty.  And that comes only with an extensive training for conflict reporting. Why would a corporate organization bother to incur an additional expanse what seems unreasonable for the big bosses running the business.

Same set of questions were raised inwardly in the Industry when Tarun Sehrawat, succumbed to the dengue when he came back to Delhi from the conflict zone of Chhattisgarh. And the brazenness shown by the Tehelka’s top management ridiculed the vulnerable field journalists by saying that he was only responsible for his fate. Unfortunately, we did not question it then and probably we won’t do it even now. Since, we have sold our conscience in the hands of corporate interests and hence most of us cautiously tend to justify such eventualities keeping the corporate interest unhurt.

Here we deal with another aspect of this corporateracy which is encroaching on quality Journalism intrusively. Both Rajdeep Sardesai and Ashutosh Gupta happened to be great admiring journalists for the younger generation. But things have completely changed in present scenario. They are now happy putting themselves in the list of the laziest journalists of the country and the list is long.

Corporate investment in Indian journalism industry has certainly earmarked a lavish life for the top level bosses but, at the same time it has disguised the other journalists who are actually the major contributor to credible journalism. Otherwise these corporate journalists would have ended up doing prime time shows with some folks in different colors making crap noises and shouting at each other.

Its time for the younger generation to revive the true journalism in India and rebel against corporate encroachment on journalism. Thirst for luxury always claims some of your distinguished feature and you end up compromising with the basic principles of honesty and truthfulness. The moment you prioritize luxury over your honesty and truthfulness, you actually bury your spirit for responsible journalism there only. You get huge money and probably name and fame too for some reasons. Consequently your responsible journalism is inflicted and it degrades simultaneously. Choice is all yours what you choose to continue with. And if you do a moral retrospection of your deeds, in other way  when you revisit your honesty then only you get to know the level of dishonest to your professionalism and creativity.

Rajdeep acknowledges his concern for those two vulnerable journalists and their misery, but refuses to address the grievances of those 350 living journalists who were sacked by Network 18 group on 16th August. No remedy for those who are compelled to live a miserable.

“How can Rajdeep Sardesai afford to buy a worth rupees 52 Crore closet in a posh colony of south Delhi if his business is running on loss?” exclaimed Subhash Chandra Yadav, a journalist sacked by Network 18 who joined IBN 7 just five months back in the hope a better job. Does Rajdeep really acknowledge what it feels to an individual whose wife was seven months pregnant and he was asked to sign the resignation letter.

In the second tweet he smartly questions Akhilesh government in U.P. and I too share concern with him over the issue for the kind of misgovernace U.P. has witnessed in recent time. But, why is his conscience dead over addressing the grievances of journalists sacked from his own organization in which he holds more than thousand crores of stakes. If Akhilesh government is held responsible for what is happening in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Why not Rajdeep Sardesai and other stakeholders should be responsible for sacking 350 journalists from Network 18?

Mr. Ras Bihari, Senior Editor ‘Governance Now’ magazine expresses his strong resentment saying “ A media organization cannot overcome losses merely by firing operational level employees”. He also suggests media houses to hire cheaper CEOs and to cut their crores of salaries into lacs which can save many operational jobs.

Shoma Chaudhary, Managing Editor Tehelka looks at this whole eventuality differently and suggests some structural changes to avoid sacking. She adds “It’s time for our society to value intellectual property for a sustainable journalism industry. Our heavy dependence on advertisers for production cost and other has certainly embarked journalism industry to some other directions where business department gets an edge over the editorial department”.

Some journalists have come forward to take this disparity down and it has a long way to go.


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