Markandey Katju, Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI), with his dramatic remarks in public, manages to remain in the news. The latest idea floated by him that journalists have to have degree/diploma in journalism to be able to work, and maintain high standards of journalism, has again drawn the attention and reaction from media practitioners and experts.
In a democracy, it is the media’s duty to inform people about everything of significance so that they could effectively discharge their participatory role in governance. But it excludes the right to misinform.
The media is bothered about the sensational news and TRPs only. Quality has taken a back seat long ago. The aim of Katju’s idea is to lift the standards in the profession. Nowadays, the profession of journalism is so competitive that it is very difficult to survive in the profession unless you are from the proprietor’s family. The best training a journalist gets is from his seniors, and while working in the field but at the same time, by acquiring of skills in an institution inculcates more confidence in the particular profession as journalism is very sensitive field and requires maintaining the standard and quality in work. At the same time, the writing is an art and if you have passion for writing, you could be a good journalist. There are some best journalists who are least qualified.
Gandhi was a great communicator and he recognized that communication is the most effective tool to shape opinion and mobilize popular support and he looked upon journalism as a means to serve the people. But it is surprising that there are around 800 newspapers registered in J&K. Paid news, it seems, is their only way to survive as they don’t have a significant circulation. Besides, government’s interests are also involved.
In fact, the yellow journalism and paid news have spoiled the image of the profession and Justice Katju, instead of stressing minimum entry-level requirement of qualification, should think over improving the conditions of journalists. As long as journalists are paid paltry wages and are expected to earn their livelihood by doubling up as advertising agents working on commissions, such mal practices would continue and become a real threat to the profession.
Let us see how Katju’s recipe for a perfect journalist would work, especially when top media giants have been struggling for an answer for ages. Over to Katju!