Perhaps every individual is aware what is journalism all about, but literally speaking journalism is, the collection, preparation, and distribution of news and related commentary and feature materials through such media as pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, radio, motion pictures, television, books, blogs, webcasts, podcasts, and e-mail. The word journalism was originally applied to the reportage of current events in printed form, specifically newspapers, but with the advent of radio, television, and the Internet in the 20th century the use of the term broadened to include all printed and electronic communication dealing with current affairs. People who practice journalism are called "journalists." They might work for newspapers, magazines, websites or for TV or radio stations. In a democracy journalism has a very substantial stand and perhaps this is why among the four pillars, journalism is considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy. Certainly every happening around us is brought to our notice only because of the journalism industry and that’s the reason why journalism is considered to be one of the most powerful tool of communication. Journalism was considered to be simply a professional until a few years back, but in the present time it’s not only a profession but every passionate journalist wants to have a successful career in it. A few years back journalism was simply confined to news collection and news reporting, however in the present scenario journalism has popped up in a totally redefined way. In Indian political system 2011-2012 is considered to the year of scams, exposes and protests, where journalism has certainly played major role. It’s only because of journalism, people in every nook and corner today are aware about the happenings around them. It was journalism that brought about a social reform during the celebrated August 2011 fast of Anna Hazare. If media and journalists wouldn’t have been there then, this movement would have never received such huge acclamation. There are tons of other live examples which shows the power of journalism, which include scams like the 2G. Today, everyone starting from a small child knows about the 2G scam, this has been only possible because of the media and journalists. The coalgate scam is another such example which came to light because of the initiative of the prominent media channel of India. This news received so much acclaim that people began to know about this scam in every household. The above cited examples very truly reflects the power of journalism. Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air. But, one mustn’t forget that with great power comes great responsibility. Journalism and media having so much power, puts a great responsibility in its shoulders and this is where the real test begins.
People may expect too much of journalism. Not only do they expect it to be entertaining, they expect it to be true. In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right. And this is the place where journalism ethic slips and gives rise to concepts like yellow journalism. Journalism and journalists have enormous power and when this power is taken as an advantage, journalism is replaced by yellow journalism. In simple words, the term "yellow journalism" applies to articles or reports that emphasize the lurid, scandalous, or sensational, rather than factual reports. Moreover, the practice of yellow journalism involves sensationalism, distorted stories, and misleading images for the sole purpose of boosting newspaper sales and exciting public opinion. In the journalism arena this is in fact the biggest challenge that this field is facing today. It’s the journalists who have given rise to concepts like yellow journalism and it’s the journalists who will have to put an end to it.
A profession is never a bed of roses, the glamorous look of a profession is accompanied with certain challenges and so is with journalism. The challenge of objectivity, impartiality and balance in journalism is faced daily by journalists. Journalists have to deliver timely news, insightful analyses and well-argued commentaries to provide what the consumers want and demand, and in order to stand out from the information explosion. They have to earn the trust and respect of consumers who choose to stay with them for reliable sources of news and information, even when they are spoilt for choice and this is big challenge for journalist. However, one of the biggest challenge to journalism in the present day is threat to the freedom of speech. Whenever we speak about journalist the first thing that comes to our mind is speaking out our mind and speaking freely, but past few incidents of people being arrested for commenting and writing on certain social issues and government’s conspiracy to put censorship on media, gives a reason to the people belonging to the journalism fraternity a reason to worry. “A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad”. Albert Camus have very rightly commented on freedom of press with the above mentioned quote and if the government puts a ban on freedom of speech in reality, this will further worsen the situation.
But, putting aside these facts journalism is certainly the most challenging, glamorous, adventurous and intriguing profession. If a person wants to step into this arena the most important attribute that one must have is passion and creativity. In an interview the CEO of NDTV Media Institute Mr. Sanjay Sehgal, once said that to be a master in the journalism arena, one must be able to tell stories and must know the art of story telling. An aspiring journalist must know how to put forward the most boring issues and topics in an utmost interesting manner, so that the person can grab the attention of the audience. Like any other profession another important thing that every aspiring journalist must be ready to do is hardwork accompanied with struggle. Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space. Journalism allows its readers to witness history. There is no doubt about the fact that journalism is the most effectual medium to reach the mass and therefore this makes it too risky sometimes. Power can be used to make or break society, and therefore the ultimate responsibility lies with the ones who practice journalism.
Journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist. It's absolutely unavoidable. A journalist is someone who looks at the world and the way it works, someone who takes a close look at things every day and reports what he/she sees, someone who represents the world, the event, for others. A journalist cannot do his work without judging what he sees. The passion of practicing journalism keeps on growing from time to time and though we may be forgotten as a person, but a journalist will be forever remembered for his works. Journalism might kill us, but it will keep us alive while we are at it.
(N.B.- this article won the 'Main Bhi Writer', writing contest Season 2 organised by the national magazine Raftaar Live)