The Dichotomy of New ‘Journalism’

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(Someswar Bhagwat) 

Narada of Indian (or rather Hindu) mythology is called the original journalist — at least of ancient India.

Chapter 230 of Devi Bhagawatam has a story of a Ganga drying up (all rivers were called Ganga then, not just the ’holy Ganges of Kashi’ (or Varanashi that became Banaras as Englishmen could not pronounce it.) It was only in Varanasi I discovered that Kashi and Banaras were twin cities like Allahabad and Prayagraj.

Narada went there to find out why. That may be the reason he is called the original journalist, at least of ancient India in times when the West was still a barbaric land of unclad people. He too ‘carried tales’ like today’s journalists but checked on factsNarada’s act has set out the first principle of journalism – find out the facts, not just what you heard.

Today reporters hear some untruth or get a handout (often with a heavy gift that shuts out untruth) and report it as fact. No check, no verification, just print.

That is how both fake news and paid media came into being.

When I set out to translate into my own mother tongue my seven year old book (A TOWN CALLED PENURY…) on the only field (I fondly thought) I knew — journalism — I realised how little I knew about it. My book turned irrelevant because journalism of today is totally different.

I thought I could translate it, as it was translated and published in Kannada years ago, but not into my own mother-tongue, as the journalist who promised to do so found he was not equal to the task and hid his face. I had to depend on him because I was born and brought up in another state and had never studied my own language.   I do not know Kannada either. Nor the tongue of the State I grew up in.  Or, the national language. That is what English education does to us.And English is not our language and so our English is faulty.My home-learnt language with limited vocabulary, I thought, was inadequate for the task. Could it be that the one who promised found out years ago what I realized only now?

Is it Right To Call Narada Muni The World's First Journalist? - NewsGram

Anyway, as translation was not possible I set out (foolishly) to write a new one. And today’s journalism with its sensational ‘breaking news’ is not the one I was engaged in for the last 64 years. No wonder journalists, in penury as the ethical ones are poorly paid, are after wealth today and try to make it by fair means or foul.

It is the foul that bothers some; not all are unethical.

When I set out to translate into my own mother tongue my seven year old book (A TOWN CALLED PENURY.….) on the only field I fondly thought  I knew — journalism — I realised how little I knew about it. My book turned irrelevant because journalism of today is totally different.

I thought I could translate it, as it was translated and published in Kannada years ago, but not into my own mother tongue, as the journalist who promised to do so found he was not equal to the task and hid his face. I had to depend on him because I was born and brought up in another state and had never studied my own language.   I do not know Kannada either. Nor the tongue of the State I grew up in.  Or the national language. That is what English education does to us.

And English is not our language and so we speak faulty or rather Indian English. So the country of Rt. Hon. Srinivasa Sastry, whose pronunciation of a word was considered the model for Englishmen (There was dispute about one word in the UK House of Commons and an MP said his pronunciation was correct as he heard Rt. Hon. Srinivasa Sastry pronounce it that way) speaks Hinglish which continues to be our ‘link’ language even 75 years after Independence and on which the Dravadian parties depend for their survival.

My home-learnt language with limited vocabulary, I thought, was inadequate for the task. Could it be that the one who had promised found out years ago what I realized only now?

Anyway, as translation was not possible I set out (foolishly) to write a new one. And today’s journalism with its sensational ‘breaking news’ is not the one I was engaged in for the last 64 years. No wonder journalists, in penury as the ethical ones are poorly paid, are after wealth today and try to make it by fair means or foul.

It is the foul that bothers some; not all are ethical. Not all are unethical either. So like the twin cities they co-exist, with the yearning for information linking them.

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