The job of journalists is to reflect social events as they are and when they happen. If the society has scars in its face, the journalists reflect the same, like a mirror does. Do we blame the mirror for reflecting scars in our face?
Some bloggers do not seem to get this message and there has been a series of comments against journalists in the social media. It is portrayed as if journalists “easily fall prey to monetary temptations,” and “do not stick to professional ethics.”
The bloggers are entitled to their views, but generalisation is in poor taste. Every profession evolves and so does journalism.
I started my career in the mid-80s and there were no computers in The Times of India, Mumbai then. It was the Hot Metal (Letter Press) printing days.
When the computer system was introduced later, journalists were worried about their future. Dozens of proofreaders and paste-up artists lost their jobs.
The print media was shifting from hard copy to computer editing. Pens, pencils, erasers and scales were silently being discarded. Sub-editors, who were used to sleeping in the office after the edition amid the din of teleprinter machines and antiquated fans making funny noises, were slowly getting used to quiet surroundings.
Fortunately, we copy editors picked up technology fast. Now, journalists and computers are inseparable.
I do cry for my adorable Remington typewriter. I sold it to a reporter friend in Navi Mumbai. I could not gift it to her as those were challenging days and pay for journalists under Indian government wage board structure was pathetic.
When I joined as a copy editor, for the entire first month I was given only “Brief” reports to edit. “Briefs” were used to fill gaps between two big articles. And they were never more than one or two paras. Imagine editing two-para stories for weeks. The bosses were so intelligent; they would find a mistake even in those and rebuke me for being careless.
And we had funny names for headline sizes for page layout purposes like “Single,” “Heavy Top” and “Bottom Spread.” That was an extension of British journalism. In fact, the page opposite editorial was called BOR. I never understood that for many weeks until a senior told me it meant “Back of Reuters.” Frankly, I still do not understand what that meant.
Most of the bloggers who throw mud on journalists may not have come across young men and women journalists working day and night who dedicated themselves as devoted members of the Fourth Estate.
Just this week, a reporter friend from a Mumbai daily mentioned to me how he wrote about a couple in distress.
After losing one daughter to disease and a second child to a miscarriage from the shock of the death, the couple were struggling to put together funds needed to save their third child, who needed a bone marrow transplant.
The report helped raise Rs1.3 million in funds from 200 donors in various countries including the UAE, Australia, Norway, Canada, USA and Oman.
This is not to argue that there are no rotten apples in this profession. Just like in most other fields, there have been examples in history of unethical mediapersons too. But there is a need to nurture, protect and even cajole mediamen who do their job sincerely and courageously as their role in society is as vital as breathing for human beings.