‘Regarding news’, Menon would tell cub reporters. ‘The basic principle of news may be what Charles Dan of the New York Sun voiced a century ago - man biting dog; but taking it seriously in the changed social and media scenario would be like comparing the Wright Brothers aircraft with a Boeing 737.’While talking to journalism students, Menon would add a few more points to this observation.
‘The dog and man story was created when the reporting field was nascent with very limited scope. Now you have a lot more subjects on your plate to deal with. Vast strides have been made in the fields of audio visual communications, transport, industry, socio-economic changes, globalisation, opening up of markets, tourism, medicine, sports, wars, international terrorism, refugees and diplomacy.
And the most important of them all – absence of competent, well informed leaders to meet these challenges.’
The lecture would be invariably followed by his favourite quote from Herbert Casson to warn future journalists to keep an eye on the back brained people who occupy positions of power.
‘The fear, and many other feelings that we must get rid of or bring under control are the back brain activity. It contains instincts - mainly lower grade feelings like rage, hate, fear, greed, cruelty and lust, and a few of the higher grade feelings such as love of offspring.
For the last 10,000 years, there has been a struggle between the front brain and back brain people. Here and there, a body of front brain people would create a civilization and invariably, the back brain people overpowered and destroyed it.
In India, Assyria, China, Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome, civilizations were created by the front brained people, and destroyed by the back brained class.
After warning that the struggle is still on, Menon would continue: ‘The back brained are dominant in several countries. It is a tragic fact that in the streets of our proud cities, there are thousands of back brain people – the Goths, Huns and Vandals of our times.
They are the sort that destroys civilizations. They walk past our noblest buildings, waiting their chance to pillage and destroy. And our supreme national problem is how to lift them up to a higher level to make them fit to live in a civilized nation.’
Menon is believed to have almost memorised it by frequent repetition. The lecture would end with an appeal to the students not to limit their vision to the man biting dog example while on the media job, but broaden their vision with extensive reading, and interaction with front brained people.
Writer - T. Kannamala
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