The Financial Express

Time to justify a lifetime's duty

| Updated: February 11, 2021 22:22:19

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Time to justify a lifetime's duty

Lies - small or big - have threatened our society, making living challenging. No more is truth universally accepted as a collective defence against crimes and corruption. A generation is at risk of being dwarfed by a denial syndrome.

No, it's not the social media which alone can be put on trial for the making of a compromised man. Lies are manufactured elsewhere, not by robots, but on purpose.

Nowadays, the commoners know who produce what, where, when, why and how much, but the price of commodities and services remains a crisis in our country. Isn't it the consequence of tricks to offer half-truths, hide facts and figures, and suppress or at least manipulate market information?

In such a situation, the most prominent platform for keeping people informed has become the biggest casualty.

Many 'journalists' suffer from a sense of uncertainty in the industry, yet failing to recognise that journalism is part of a process that deals with a dynamic society. Serving others, excluding the public, by a section for years has been a major cause and effect of the decline.

The media is in crisis, worldwide, but more so in Bangladesh, for reasons which were not discussed publicly until the new (social) media have challenged the old (mainstream) one. The local media is in a shambles, not merely for business model failure, but more for the waning trust of people in their products and approaches. The legal and regulatory aspects restricting journalistic exercises are criticised abroad but self-criticism at home is a far cry.

The atmosphere itself is perplexing. While fake news is cooked up by the ones who are capable of so doing -financially, technologically and socially-, the same creeds blame the mainstream media for disseminating misinformation.

An article on "To control online misinformation, we need real-world solutions", written by PolitiFact's editor-in-chief Angie Drobnic Holan and carried by Poynter, emphasises punitive measures of and by tech companies and government regulation. The solution is offered in American context, but elsewhere the scope to regulate leads to wholesale censorship.

The moment uncomfortable truths, like Wikileaks disclosures, started coming out, so did the campaign to stop free flow of information.

Conspiracy theorists believe the masses would believe as if no incidents like share market debacle, bank money embezzlement, cyber heist, and healthcare scam had ever happened in the country, should they make and market some 'nonsense' narratives to counter the ground reality.

It can't be guaranteed also that a fair atmosphere would prevail automatically. Still a forgotten mantra is: Society and its leaders have to fight for establishing truth, justice and accountability, three most obvious objectives of media operations.

Use of sugarcoated words to avoid a rugged path of the profession rather helps its antagonists to resort to dangerous falsehood, recent experiences of democracies in America, Europe and part of Asia show. And living in an increasingly hostile world, it's hard to expect reporting and writing free from hazards.

"At a moment when journalism's credibility remains low and sustainable sources of revenue remain frustratingly out of reach, regaining public trust in, and loyalty to, journalism is among the most significant challenges facing the profession, "Jacob L Nelson of Arizona State University, US, noted in an article on 'The Case for Journalistic Humility' published by Columbia Journalism Review.

Readers' reactions online suggest what they want to read is life story, not a fiction, eulogy or seminar paper, on newspaper pages. Misinformation, available on the networking sites and apps, spreads mostly in absence of accurate information. How can statements without substance and lifeless pieces be the business of the media?

In every activity of life, people face the truth which is as raw as living on and exit from the earth. They won't buy poor quality contents in exchange for money.

Journalism is a profession that is not different for any nation; it doesn't leave any scope for deviation from integrity of journalistic ethics rooted in lifelong dedication to the righteous causes. Readers and businesses alike don't support evidently all newspapers. It's, therefore, up to the industry leaders and journalists how they would win the hearts of the readers of new generations.


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