THE TWO FACES OF JOURNALISM

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a speech on Gurupurab Day, told the nation that the government has decided to repeal the three contentious farm laws

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As Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a speech on Gurupurab Day, told the nation that the government has decided to repeal the three contentious farm laws that have yielded widespread agitation and disastrous consequences for nearly a year, part of the media juggernaut of the country reacted with relief, while the other part with utter disbelief, bordering on despair. This stark difference emanated basically from the artificial belief systems that each category of media had built their narratives on for over a year.

Even if we do not go into the details of the pros and cons of the three laws at the moment, we need to understand that the basic concept around which journalism was built was truth. It was the reportage of facts, followed by analytics and opinions that was the cornerstone of good journalism. Today, when reporters are asked to strictly follow an opinionated line, that reportage is bound to be biased, and the general consensus and narrative built around such opinion and reportage would eventually sound hollow in the final analysis.

Journalism has moved away from the truth. That was the primary reason for the almost diametrically opposite reactions displayed by the two sections of media. Let us see how the media changed narratives vis-à-vis the change in attitude of the government and how it was forced to try and make amends through unnatural justifications.

For the media today, especially in India, ‘sorry’ isn’t a usable word. It’s a pariah concept. Television anchors and editors will ring fence his/her actions and pronouncements for as long as he/she can, with barely defendable arguments. All the while, these ‘debaters’ believe that the viewer is patently misinformed and unintelligent. Renowned Hindi anchor Ravish Kumar, of NDTV India, congratulated the farmers and said that even those who called the farmers terrorists (Khalistanis), agitators have now understood. The farmers have taught the country to be the supportive of the people and their rights which had been trampled upon. The farmers’ voice has been heard. The Prime Minister’s announcement of the repeal of the three contentious farm laws exposed the true faces of a section of the media.

Journalism has taken a big hit and false construct of narratives have come down like a house of cards

The “Godi media will still talk about farmers, but not for the farmers but for ‘them’. For Kumar, the narrative did not change; instead it was seemingly a vindication of what he has always been saying. It was relief. For Arnab Goswami of Republic Bharat, however, it was a shock. It took a while to for him to realise that his carefully constructed narrative has been demolished in one fell sweep. But how can he give up his “ideology”? Frankly, for these anchors, this ideology is a self construct and may or may not have any existence in the real world. There was a time when Arnab used to scream: “I’ve been saying from the beginning, friends, that this is not a protest. This is an experiment, an experiment to break the country.

These people had done the same experiment on CAA and NRC in Shaheen Bagh. And now, in the guise of the farm laws, these people have left the country bloodied.” With the repeal promise, he is left with a burnt out torch. So, he said: “The elements that wanted to burn the country… have nothing to burn India over.” That did not stop the screaming of Arnab, but his wings have no wind under them. It will take him some time to adjust to reality. The other extreme was Zee News’ Sudhir Chaudhary. He refuses to give up his aggressive position, despite having nothing to fight with now. So he says that the repeal of the laws “nowhere proves that there was no Khalistani hand or that the tukdetukde gangs were not involved in the protest.” He, of course, contradicted his own statement (of the protesters themselves being Khalistanis), by saying: “From now on, the supporters of Khalistan will never be able to misuse these protests.” Wise words, those. News18 India’s Aman Chopra said: “The repealing of the laws has put a big lock on the shops of the tukde-tukde gang and Khalistan.

Those who VIEWS ON NEWS December 1, 2021 5 were using the shoulders of the farmers to fire the anti-India gun, those who were turning Sindhu into Syria, those who were running the shop of anarchy under the guise of the farmer protests… those who wanted to turn the whole country into Shaheen Bagh in the name of the protest: all their shops have been shuttered today.” The almost obscenely loud voice of Rahul Shivshankar of Times Now crackled yet again, saying: “Today is a sad day for India. India lost today. India’s loss, democracy’s failure.” It looks like he has not been able to digest the PM’s declaration. He seems at a complete loss.

This is what happens when you refuse to relate to ground realities and depend more on a prescribed opinion. This can be called anything, but journalism. This goes against all the tenets of journalism. Another angle to defend himself with was quickly found by ABP News’s Rubika Liyaquat, who said: “If the head of the government doesn’t accept the people’s demand, he is called a dictator. If he accedes, it is said that he has accepted defeat. This is politics.” Others maintained their respect, somewhat, but journalism has failed the people. That is for certain. It is time we lifted ourselves from the pits and added a little bit of self respect to what we do in our noble profession.