By Alok Verma

In the last a few years very well planned agendas have been thrust on the country which led Arvind Kejriwal to occupy the chair of Delhi CM and Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. However, we may like or dislike both they have got their own diehard friends and foes. Ever since, the country has also been witnessing dilation of divisive politics. To further divide, all political parties systematically indulge in hurling accusations, abuses and violence on verifiable or non-verifiable issues through press conferences followed by mindless debates in news studios or newspapers. Thereafter, celebrity editors of leading media houses lap every such event without even applying their own fundamental intelligence and wisdom whether the issue needs overzealous coverage and will go to any extent to justify the stance taken by them. In fact, we see those editors also try to out shout each other through their twitter posts and even don’t shy in misusing their own institutions. If one takes a close look one finds that these editors are driven more by agenda journalism than straight journalism where you don’t have the courage to appreciate or castigate with the same passion irrespective of the political party or political leader in question. But each news coverage today seems to be the outcome of either personal or professional liking or disliking towards a party or a leader.

One does watch the same reverberations on the social media too. Following the news coverage in the traditional media, the social media leads the debate on nationalistic credence. So, if you agree with Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi then you are either a nationalist or anti-national and if you disagree with them then also you will be categorized as nationalist or ant-national.

If the anti-national slogans in JNU can’t be justified so is the arrest of JNUSU president Kannahiya. If beating of journalists in Delhi can’t be justified so is the killing of journalists in UP, MP and other states. But distinguished delegation of journalists/editors would not march or meet Home Minister or the President to vehemently oppose the killings of poor journalists in small cities with the same enthusiasm what they do for a few journalists in Delhi on their manhandling. If the silence of Narendra Modi can’t be justified on many issues so is the overzealous politics of Rahul Gandhi or Arvind Kejriwal on similar issues without doing anything for them. If Narendra Modi’s arrogance towards the Opposition can’t be justified so would be the remarks of Manmohan Singh that spare Gandhis and we will pass the GST in two hours. But all this would require neutrality to pursue journalism without one-sided passion. However, there can be a number of national issues on whom the national conscience is one and hence there may not be any room for diverse opinion. But this doesn’t seem to be the case.     

Unfortunately, certain events in our country have polarized minds so much it is also impossible to remain neutral. Because sometimes you may agree with Narendra Modi’s certain policy or remarks immediately you will be ranked as his ‘bhakht’ or if you disagree you are an anti-national. The same goes for Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi. The crisis is that even our media has also been playing a very questionable role in becoming party to the game of politics. I very strongly feel that many journalists probably don’t like to practice straight journalism. It looks as if each journalist or a media house encourages agenda led journalism. And, news reports are weaved around the theme of agenda which actually may or may not justify the real cause. It increasingly becomes difficult to fathom whether news reports are being presented dispassionately.

And, the most worrying is the rise of celebrity journalism which has in the last few years have formed a cosy club with elite members from the world of politics, bureaucracy, business and  celebrity professionals. It looks that all the issues are dissected, debated or covered by journalists sitting in Delhi through the eyes or perception of high and mighty. And, when these celebrity journalists unleash their public posturing through hashtags on being anti-national debate it raises a question within me whether this trigger is just out of their insecurity or due to loss of erstwhile influence. Else, who really cares so long one is sure of practicing true journalism. Probably, in their arrogance of fame they forget that they possibly too deeply pandered to the interest of erstwhile rulers of the country by genuflecting every part of their body or becoming pawns in their hands for political fixing and in lieu they were systematically promoted and branded as most talented journalists of the country in a well-orchestrated strategy supported by the then establishment. Thereafter, these brilliant journos captured the screens and started practicing agenda journalism. All other journalists who were and are far more brilliant but practised straight journalism have lost completely to practitioners of agenda journalism in the last several years. So, all agenda journalists are part of the cosy club. Unfortunately, practitioners of agenda journalism belonging to erstwhile establishment are replaced by another set belonging to current establishment. Now, they are ruling the roost. This surely has unnerved certain well-established celebrity journalists. However, the fate of straight journalism practitioners hasn’t changed during this humdrum. They are still sitting on the fence but haven’t compromised yet.

The world of quality journalism is not restricted to Delhi or few more cities. Every city has a bunch of brilliant and bright journalists who are fearless and write reams and reams of brilliant news stories. Unfortunately, the brilliance is only recognized and rewarded to those a few, who sit in Delhi. It looks as if the practitioners of quality journalism is the fiefdom of a few Delhi-based journalists . I know a score of briliant journalists and editors who have not been given their well-deserved recognition and rewards as for them earning respect of fellow journalists and other like-minded but successful citizens was far more rewarding than running for joining the ‘gangs of Wasseypur’.

We have recently seen the kind of love and respect poured for a brilliant journalist Arindam Sengupta, while he bid us good bye. We have hundreds of such Arindam Senguptas, who love straight journalism not agenda journalism but unfortunately many of them either live outside Delhi or live a quiet professional life, away from so—called arch lights.

I,therefore, sincerely hope for the time when a journalist doesn’t have to proclaim his or her credentials.    

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