“Present trend of reporting is dangerous for the fourth pillar of democracy” – say senior journalists

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This week’s cabinet meeting has made one thing clear – that if the state will enact any special law for protection of journalists; at the same time it will bring into effect a regulatory body or frame a policy for code of conduct for journalists. What do the veterans of the field have to say on the need for a law and whether the present trend of reporting is dangerous for the fourth pillar of democracy? To find out, Dy. editor Sana Warsia met Ex Chief Reporter of the Times of India S Balakrishnan and eminent journalist K A Vishwanathan.

This week post the weekly cabinet meeting of the state, when chief minister prithviraj chavan addressed the media, there was a literal confrontation between him and the journalists. The chief minister did not hesitate to raise questions on the conduct of some journalists as he said that a special law for their protection would be enacted only after putting a code of conduct for journalists in place. There’s no doubting that while there are many journalists who are ethically and morally using the power vested in them as the fourth pillar of democracy, yet like the old cliché goes, like any other profession there are black sheep in the journalists community too. To find out what the veterans of the field have to say on the need for a special law for protection of journalists and the present trend of reporting that is more often than not criticized by many; we met with the ex chief reporter of the times of India s balakrishnan and eminent journalist k a vishwanathan. And both the senior scribes said that they are against a special law for scribes.

According to him, there’s no denying that journalism has played a very significant role as the fourth pillar of democracy but it is the present trend of breaking news that is not healthy. He feels that there is also a lack of sensitivity in the present trend of reporting. But the most dangerous trend according to the senior scribe is the concept of paid news. Citing an example of a senior journalist in Mumbai who took a favor from a former Chief Minister, S Balakrishan says that even maintaining the integrity of the fourth pillar has become a challenge.

K A Vishwanathan, another veteran of the field agrees with S Balakrishnan that there is no need for a special law for protection of journalists. He speaks of the computer journalism of today and says that often proper research is not done on facts of any story before reporting it. According to vishwanathan, it’s the young journalists who are more of only telephone journalists.

Bringing to light, the often ignored reality of the industry, he says that often people leave the profession as they do not have the freedom to right what they want. Despite of spending a good number of years in the industry, a lot of journalists decide to quit their jobs merely because they feel that the power to bring about a change lies in the hands of the higher authorities and not in their pen and paper. What’s unfortunate is that even loyalty changes for many journalists for a price.

The Indian constitution is one of the best constitutions in the world. It provides equal freedom of speech to both, her citizens and the press. But is the present trend conveying the truth and only the truth to the public? In the age of cut throat breaking news competition, conscience of reporters seems to have taken a back seat. With bureau inputs, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.