What was even sadder to read was that my friend’s friend shared that video and praised that politician for “putting the reporter in his place.” He was simply one of the many people who praised her.
The first time I realized a division in the Indian media – conservative and liberal – was in 2002, after the Godhra riots.
Or perhaps it was the first time, (I was also working as a reporter for The Times of India), that I truly understood the power of the press. Whatever else it is, I realized, the press is truly a gatekeeper. It can bring down governments, a single editorial can stop riots (Balu Pulipaka wrote the editorial for The Times of India that brought those riots to a grinding halt) and it can help people.
The first time I realized, there was a “conservative press” and a “liberal press” in the U.S. was in a Media and Society class, a few months after I landed here in 2003.
While I comprehended that not many people in India were fond of the press and simply saw it as an obstruction, I was a tad surprised to find that attitude in the U.S. too, especially since the U.S. has a Freedom of Information Act in place to help reporters.
So, why are some people so very condescending of the press?
Is it because of those handful of fictional (Carrie Bradshaw being one of them) and quite a few non-fictional characters in the media who have not exactly helped the cause of journalism?
What was the cause of this attitude towards the press to begin with?
Is the attitude of the people towards the media related to the partisan nature of the press ... do they go hand-in-hand?
How deep is the split between the liberal and conservative press? What will happen should the rift create a cavern? Who will sink? What harm will it cause?
Over the past few days we have seen several reports about reporters being investigated in the U.S. for doing their jobs.
There is no other way to say this, except that it is scary.
While this is not the first time that journalists have been investigated, perhaps it is now time to take a look at ourselves.
How partisan can the press be without it becoming a problem, without it creating a divide and without it harming ourselves? Would such deep fissures within ourselves disintegrate us? Isn’t there some saying about, “united we stand…” or something like that?
Isn't it time for journalists to come together and work for the common good?
While it is always good to have different opinions, they help us think laterally, isn't it time we reined in at least some of those differences, especially when they spill into the arena of animosity? Or is it then that corporate greed comes in – viewership, readership, advertisers and cashing in on videos and articles going viral?
Then there is this whole new wonderful world being proposed where “everyone is a journalist.” Is that the beginning of the end of journalism, fact-checking and democracy as we know it? If everyone speaks at once, who do we listen to and what do we hear? Who will perform the function of keeping the government – whether it be the conservative or liberal – on their toes? Who will hear it when questions are asked? And will answers ever be given?
Maybe this is a good time to come back to the issue of licensing journalists. Make them a unit and hence make them stronger.
Perhaps now is the time to start again, be less divided and be more than just scribes who create literature in a hurry.