TODAY -

Media in Manipur: Time for reality check
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: July 26 2011 -



Money is important, very important. In fact it is the wheel around which the world revolves and this is the reason why Bill Gates was known more as the richest man on earth at one point of time than as the man behind Windows or Microsoft.

The Sultan of Brunei will most probably figure in the consciousness of quite a large number of people but few would be able to put their finger on the map of Brunei and the reason why his reputation has preceded his country is nothing but money, again.

However in as much as money is needed there is a huge difference between building a fortune and fattening one's wallet through dubious means and this is probably the reason why there was no overt hue and cry when the then Prime Minister Deve Gowda dumped protocol and personally called on Bill Gates during his visit to India in the latter half of the 90s.

Imagine the stink it would have raised if Mr Gates had raised his money through money laundering or by running a gun racket ! This brief observation has been mentioned in the face of the debate and discussion sparked off by an article which appeared in the My Turn column of this news paper (English edition) on July 24.

The article primarily dealt with the effectiveness or rather the ineffectiveness of the media in Manipur and sought to analyse the probable reasons for this, but in the process, the question of how much or how little journalists earn here as salaries suddenly became the lightning rod of many comments.

Given the importance of money, this is no doubt important and one may even be forgiven for making this central to the whole discussion and in making this topic the central point of the discussion, it invariably envelops the question of whether money should be such a defining factor in deciding how one fits into one's profession or not.

Should leeways be allowed because journalists are an underpaid lot ? Has the media in Manipur become some sort of a toothless tiger in the face of its dependence on Government largesse in the form of advertisements ?

Is society or the Government indifferent to the media because of the quality of the people involved in the profession of journalism ?

These are some of the points which were invariably thrown up in the course of the discussion and while there were elements of truth in all the views expressed, there is still the need for the media itself to go in for a bout of reality check, without any ifs and buts.

For any reality check to have an impact, unalloyed sincerity is called for and it is important to acknowledge that this exercise cannot be held to please anyone. The question is whether the media fraternity and establishments are ready to face the ugly truth or not.

But face it we must, for we can no longer afford to adopt the Ostrich like attitude any longer.

First of all there is the urgent need to question why the low pay and salaries of journalists, and here we include the Editors, the sub-editors, the reporters and even regular columnists, should be viewed as the cushion for the shortcomings we see all around.

Does this mean that the lower one's salary is, the longer the rope should be for one to engage in activities that does not fit the job profile or at times even run contrary to it ? Does the low pay mean that all should look the other way if a journalist uses his ID card to land a plum contract work ?

Why is the media in Manipur not able to attract the best brains around ? Is it because of the extremely low pay and salary or is it because of the demanding nature of the profession or is it because a job in the media carries no status at all ?

There are no easy answers to these questions, for sure, but at the same time we need to remember that anyone not satisfied with his salary or pay has no business to prostitute the profession he is in and this applies to all not only journalists.

For that matter, such is human nature that no pay or salary will be deemed enough or satisfactory but under no circumstances should these factors be cited to justify selling one's soul to the devil.

This is the reason why Anna Hazare has become some sort of an icon and why the Lok Pal Bill has perhaps become the most well known Bill in a long, long time in India.

For the media to be able to frighten the wit out of the Government or any one for that matter, it must have credibility. This is a truism which is acknowledged by all the journalists in Manipur, but the bitter truth stares one in the face when attempts are made to seek this credibility rather than earn it.

It is only when a distinction between earning it and seeking it is clearly drawn can the media learn to stand straight when asked to kneel.

For too long it has been a case of crawling when asked to kneel.





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