For journalists, thin line between truth and hype
Karachi: The media is a business that is often guided by money. But is journalism a business too? Or is it a profession with certain underlying responsibilities? Should a reporter always be polite? If so, would it not lead to some sort of an innocuous client-vendor relationship? Similarly, how far can a reporter go to mine information? Was that paparazzo’s chase of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fahd, which resulted in a tragic car crash, ethical?
A group of journalists from India and Pakistan contemplated over these and more such deep-lying concerns regarding media ethics at a seminar, titled ‘State of Media in Pakistan and India – Ethics and Standards’, held at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday morning.
And what came about was a degree of consensus over the fact that while the traditional print media still displays a semblance of responsibility – a quality reflected in their practice – it is the electronic media that has spiralled out of control and requires serious attention.
An aspect worth noting was that as the seminar progressed, the Indian and Pakistani journalists seemed to become embroiled in a competition to put forward the worst blunder committed by a news channel in their respective countries. And both came out winners.
The general secretary of the Kolkata Press Club, Anindya Sengupta, had an interesting take on the art of reporting. He believed that a reporter should have the liberty to be impolite if need be. “A reporter must have the ability to coax and cajole his source to extract information, because facts that can potentially become news of national importance are not dished out just like that,” he stated. However, Sengupta maintained that journalism needs to be practiced ethically and all processes of report-writing, including the desk’s input, must be carried out with these implications in mind.
Sudipta Sengupta, the president of the Kolkata Press Club, noted that journalism is a profession with some indispensable responsibilities. “Running a hospital has its financial aspects, but is the practice of medicine a business? I don’t think so.” At the seminar, Pakistani journalists pointed out that the electronic media of the country is still floundering, largely because it has remained entangled in the endless war for ratings since its inception.