Wednesday, February 4, 2009

And then there was one

Hi to all.

I can't believe its been a month since I last posted. I'm tempted to pompously claim that I have been very busy etc. and thus the delay. 

But my boss might be reading this and call my bluff pronto. Damn connectivity and bringing people closer.     

The past few months have not been very good for the media. We have come under fire from every quarter. Many have lost jobs post a worldwide economic slump. 

Some others have taken a beating for supposed irresponsible reporting. The Mumbai attacks have elicited a vigorous debate on what constitutes good reportage. 

While I'm honour bound to defend my clan, I have cringed many a time at appalling lack of sensitivity in some of my much celebrated colleagues. Similarly I have grudgingly appreciated, if crude, but very effective news reporting that have led to action by authorities. 

the point in argument being the "torture" on camera of a six year old girl by policemen in Etawa and their dismissal thereof. However like many others, I wondered how it's possible to keep on filming the macabre display without attempting to stop the cruelty or at least interfering long enough.     

The blogosphere has been buzzing with criticism of the coverage of the 26/11 attacks, of media in general and NDTV in particular. Journalists have been accused of trivializing news before. But for the media, which gave space to even some of the harshest criticism of it, the debate would have run its course and fizzled out.

However, I have been meaning to write this post ever since I saw that a news item some days back that made me sit back and smile. 

Celebrated journalist P. Sainath of "Every body loves a good draught" fame has refused a Padma Sri. 

In his own inimitable style he said “Journalism should not be judged by government and journalists should not accept awards from governments they are covering or writing about.” Sainath compared it to “The external auditor of a company taking an award from the company he is auditing or scrutinizing.” 

I met Sainath in journalism college and the first thing that struck me about the man was his energy. Late into the night he walked the campus, throwing ideas at a bunch of youngsters eager to break into the world of media.   

K A Abbas once described Sainath as "incorrigible, irreverent, indefatigable and, at times, infuriating. To this I shall add one more word: incorruptible."

A Magsaysay award winner, Sainath perhaps underplays his title as a 'rural reporter' but drives his point with panache and humour that simply put, is him.

As all Indians who do not hesitate to claim Shah Rukh Khan or Amartya Sen as their "own", I have always thought Sainath as "ours" - of the media. 

In the face of intense ripping apart of our profession, crude generalisation and repeating cliches, I cannot help but feel proud and fond of a man who carelessly tosses away a Padma Sri on grounds of principles that many have found hard to walk away from.     

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1 comment:

Hatikvah said...

I couldn't have agreed more. Sainath's speech on "Globalizing Inequality" is one of the most memorable one that I've heard. Along those lines, I'd recommend John Pilger for his insightful research and ability to adhere to the basic tenets of journalism - "to eliminate knowledge arbitrage". Sainath, would forever remain an aspirational entity.

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