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NDTV might or might not be innocent, but Journalism is pivotal for a democracy

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In light of the recent CBI raid which took place at NDTV Co-Founder Prannoy Roy’s residence, there seems be a solidarity among the people of India and the media against the government. The raid is being perceived as an obstruction to the freedom of speech and a deliberate attempt by the government to clamp down mainstream media. As a MA Journalism student, I feel quite confident of entering the profession when seeing such unity between the readers/viewers and the media.

But where there is one opinion like the above, there seems to an opposition which is brewing which does not surprise me. I read an article on OpIndia, written by Sujoy (saw the name on Twitter and thought this would be better than using ‘chaiwallah’) titled “It’s not CBI raids on NDTV but the arrogance of media that threatens democracy”, where he states that the NDTV is just like any other company in India and they should not be given any special status when it comes to the CBI raids.

NDTV, after the raids were conducted, published their statement where they termed the action as a “witch-hunt” and an attempt to undermine democracy. After that they also published an updated statement where they showed documents which supposedly proves that Prannoy Roy and his wife are not innocent. When I read the news for the first time, I was quite taken aback. In truth, even after seeing the updated statement from NDTV I do not know whether Roy is innocent or not. I will wait for further turn of events to judge that.

I agree with the author, that if Roy is indeed guilty of doing something wrong then he or the company, whosoever is guilty, should be tried and punished in the same manner as others. Just because it is a media house, they should not get exemption in any form.

But, what I do disagree with and respectfully so, is the attack on the profession of journalism and his opinion on what it takes to be a journalist. Understand that I am not calling the author out or this is some kind of revenge post. I think he is entitled to his opinion and I am to mine and thus I am writing this.

I respect each and every profession. Be it a doctor, teacher, army and even the janitor. I think every kind of profession are like pieces of a puzzle, a puzzle which in this case is the society we live in; a democratic society. If one of them stops functioning then the whole system destabilises.

What I did not like in the article was when the profession of a journalist was compared to that of a doctor and a teacher. It was further deduced that being a teacher or a doctor is far more important than being a journalist in today’s world. I would like to mention here, has the author looked towards Turkey, where journalists are being jailed and even put in solitary confinement under by the Erdogan government? If not Turkey, then the current US regime under Donald Trump who are constantly trying to debase and shut down journalists and correspondents from the White House. It is reported that more than 100 journalists were killed in 2016.

Now the question is, if according to the article, journalism is not as important as the professions mentioned, then why are journalists facing an existential crisis in different parts of the world? Forget about being threatened on a daily basis due to their investigations, they are in fear of being killed or jailed and that too for questioning the ones who need to be held responsible for their actions.

The article states that journalism is all about “connections”. I am working on my final project for my Masters where I have to publish an original story. I have been working on my story for over a month now, and apart from trying to find relevant people and taking interviews (which one might mildly call ‘connections’!), a lot of thought, toil and perseverance goes into putting the correct (legally correct in many cases!) words on the paper. It might just look like a 800 word article, but there is intense research and investigations involved behind each and every word.

I know that due to the rise of “fake news”, many have become even more sceptical of the mainstream media. But, to take one case like this and then giving a generalised and negative view on the whole profession does not serve the purpose. At times like these when definitions of nationalism, patriotism and secularism are going through a radical shift and dissent is being classed as “anti-national”, the need for brave and unbiased journalism can’t and should not be undermined.

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