By: Er. Prabhat Kishore
There is general accusation that press always indulges or highlights murders, assaults, riots, kidnappings, divorce or scandals with women. It is true that these incidents get wide publicity in the newspapers. But, can anyone say that these are not news? If a newspaper decides not to publish all such news as trash news, then what will ultimately happen to that newspaper? A newspaper may refuse to publish such new son moral grounds, but then the rival newspaper may not be so scrupulous and publish such news.
The result would be the first paper would suffer in circulation and might be forced to go into liquidation. Journalistic virtues are centred round the following six principles: Accuracy, Truthfulness, Balance, Decency, Sensitivity and Fairness. Journalists are servants of the public and truth.
Many people complain that newspapers do not give adequate publicity to the constructive activities or development activities of the Government. It is true that there is ample scope to highlight the programmes of economic activity in both the public and private sectors. But, the general complaints are that these are not adequately reported in the newspapers.
But if all these incidents are properly weighed on the scale of newsworthiness it will be found that actually there is not much news value from the point of view of the readers.
All journalists are aware of the fact that if a snake bites a person, then it is no news. But if a person bites snake, it becomes a news. The analogy may be very old for, but there is some basic truth in it. If a person bites a snake, that becomes a news. But if there comes a time when the person always bites a snake, it will no longer be a news.
River flows its natural course, which is no news. If the river dries up resulting in terrible misery to the people in adjoining areas, then of course it is a great news. This may invite the attention of a scientist as well ecologists to find out reason for this sudden behaviour of the nature. Similarly, if there is devastating flood in the river causing enormous damages to crops, houses and deaths, it becomes news. If the workshop or factories run as per schedule and its production is just according to target, it is no news, it is expected of workshops. But if there is a strike in the factory or workshop resulting in enormous loss to the nation- it becomes news. Again if there is enough production beyond the target or rated capacity then it becomes a good news.
The importance of news varies from area to area. In certain areas of the Prakhand, the news of even Panchayat election is more important than the Vidhan Sabha or the Lok Sabha elections. This is because all the big guns are involved in such elections and the people under the Panchayat are eager to know about the elected persons as they would have made a considerable influence in the development and other works in the Panchayat.
Of course, if there be one or two candidates from the area seeking election to Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha, then the result of such elections as well as the campaign of the candidate before election should become news and should get preference to local news items. Similarly, the news of the death of a Gram Sarpanch or a Mukhiya is no news for big national newspapers, but if the Sarpanch or Mukhiya dies after a shock received about any untoward happening to the Chief Minister or a minister of his area then of course such news of death becomes a news.
Therefore, it can be safely assumed that there is no hard or fast rule regarding news or its publication. Newspapers, big or small, are interested in publishing only such news in which its readership is interested. But this is also a fact that newspapers hardly know the news preference of its readership, in spite of many analytical survey. A newspaper or a reporter will undoubtedly be a great success if they are able to find out the news by its readership.
Then comes the question of newspapers exposing malpractices of politicians. Such exposures are nothing new in Indian journalism. Journalists had the courage of and honesty to expose the gross malpractices of Heavyweight politicians Mr. K.D. Malviya (Minister in the Centre Govt.), Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon (Chief Minister of Punjab), A.R. Antule (Chief Minister of Maharashtra), Bakshi Gulam Mohammad (CM of Jammu & Kashmir), Jagannath Mishra & Laloo Prasad (both CM of Bihar) and many others. Because of exposures of malpractices reported by them they had to quit ultimately. If such exposures are done even now by bold journalists, it will do immense good to the country.
It is heartening that many young generation reporters are engaged in exposing many corrupt practices on high places with unquestioned integrity and honesty. That is the real hope for new journalism in our country.
(Author is a technocrat and educationist. He studied Journalism and Mass Communication at Patna University)
A new hope for journalism
By: Er. Prabhat Kishore