MediaBlog: Why Journalism is Losing its Credibility?

This article will spill some beans on the malpractices in journalism. Much of it, many of you may already know about. But somehow, there is little zeal or effort to confront the uncomfortable truth.

On the surface, journalism may seem vibrant and powerful, with news and views, point counterpoint. However in reality, it has touched an abysmal low and seems to almost denigrate from being a “watchdog” to being the “lapdog”.

It is an open secret that some journalists (of course, not all) have been on the pay roll of PR agencies, corporates and political parties. And some of them have no qualms in being identified as a journalist supporting a particular political party, a PR agency or even a business house. What is known as the fourth estate, journalism is being trafficked for power and money and the profession has been slowly but steadily, losing its identity and purpose.

According to industry veteran Vinod Behl, “If today journalists or journalism as a profession has lost respect, both scribes and organizations are to blame. We all know that a leading newspaper group institutionalised this practice. Initially this group was run down for compromising the journalistic ethics and commoditising media. But later, others also jumped on the bandwagon, followed this tried and tested formula to bolster commercial revenues. So much so that today there is a thin dividing line between paid and regular editorial content. Of late some fancy terms like Impact Feature and Consumer Connect Feature have been coined to legitimise this unholy practice. The rampant business of paid awards is another dimension of this ugly face of media. With media undergoing severe financial crisis for the last few years, with Corona pandemic further precipitating the crisis, things are only going from bad to worse.”

Some factors like the pandemic are beyond anybody’s control. But apart from that, many problems were self imposed. Journos doing little home work or zero due diligence of the subject at hand or interviewee in question reflects so poorly overall on the tribe of the journalist. There is this classic case of a TV journalist who after taking the byte of former home minister Inderjit, asked him to introduce himself. There is an equally hilarious case of a popular TV anchor calling up a veteran sports journalist for interview, mistaking him as a legendary cricketer simply because he shared the same surname as the cricketer. Next day at the appointed time, the sports journalist reached National Stadium where the interview was to be conducted. The camera was set up but before that TV anchor realized her mistake.

In today’s age of social media, google and armchair journalism, things have further worsened. It is becoming commonplace for PR people to advertise of “assured” media coverage in a list of newspapers. A publicist shares how she was appalled to see many Facebook groups, openly claiming to provide coverages in specific newspapers and electronic media. According to Ramya Mishra Founder of PR365 says, “As a PR professional, I can vouch no one can guarantee client coverage, till the time one has made deep inroads in the publication. Any news is picked based on the news element it has, and also according to the editorial policies followed by respective publications. Moreover, when news is pitched to the journalists, it needs to be finally approved by the editor in order to get published. I don’t know how digital professionals are able to skip the whole process? Also, if this continues then the publication will end up losing the brand image and the goodwill they have generated over a number of years. The best example is Forbes, the masses knew they can get published in the mentioned magazine, by shelling out money. Slowly, the word spread in the market and the esteemed publication lost its goodwill. This unholy nexus needs to be stopped at the earliest.”

There have been problems galore with traditional media but with the advent of digital space, media has been going through some change. Though it has opened up new horizons for clients, media, and the PR agency, but few of the changes are totally detrimental for all the stakeholders.

More spilling the beans in MyMediaBlogs on award nites, how social media is another game of big money, adverse reportage during Corona war times, in days to come.

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