Media Challenge

Journalists have had it hard lately; the World Association of Newspapers has claimed that Asia was the worst region in the world for practicing journalism. Over 500 journalists have been arrested during 2005 while terming it as a “dark year” for press with 51 journalists having lost their lives in the line of duty so far. The throttling of independent media continues unabated in many countries around the world.

Against the backdrop of this distressing report on the state of journalists, the National Press Day – The 16th of November – was observed across the country. The need for a free and responsible press in Nagaland remains a fundamental requirement if it is to continue its role as a moral watchdog by not only ensuring that the press maintain the high standards expected of it but also that it is not fettered by the influence or threats of any extraneous factors. Media persons will continue to be challenged on this one.

A more recent challenge for journalists today is the globalization of news itself, which is having a far reaching effect on both the news gatherers and the readers. In a world that is rushing headlong into a technologically unknown future, the effect of global news flow and the way journalists are able to report what is happening around the world is a task that the media industry would now have to deal. 

New technologies also mean that there is considerable growth in the media globally, particularly in broadcasting and the web medium. The internet alone has put within the click of a mouse, enormous amount of raw information available on almost every subject, whether in countries with or without freedom of expression. Also because so much information sharing now goes on in cyberspace, it means bypassing the traditional role of journalists to gather, select and disseminate. In such a scenario, there is every possibility that journalists could run the risk of becoming redundant. This may not augur well for the principle on which the media operates. The challenge with internet will be distinguishing truth, rumor and disinformation or propaganda. For this, managing information will remain the key or else accuracy and a balanced perspective will suffer. This more than anything else will dent the credibility of the media.

On the plus side journalists can now use such technology to analyze larger data base without the bureaucratic filters and spins. Too often, journalists can unwittingly be carriers of manipulated data, disseminating it from the disk of officials to the general public. This is tantamount to pilferage of media ethics. Rather, journalists should take advantage of the available technology to create reports that challenge rather than simply conforming to official statements.

The media will have to continue its assigned task in a way that acknowledges and respects the power of public opinion as an effective element of democracy. The core of a free press therefore would mean that it should strive to be an independent catalyst in the democratization process while encouraging and strengthening the expressed free will of the people.