The upholders of the fourth estate seemed to have downgraded themselves during a conference in London
Senior journalists accompanying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee for a conference in London sold their reputation for 30 pieces of silver.
Instead of enjoying the well laid-out dinner, they preferred the glittering silver cutlery. The silverware slid into pockets while the dinner was getting served. The poor chaps did not know that they were being watched on CCTV and were left red-faced. One even had the gall to deny the acts until he was shown the recording.
Funny though it may seem, there is a deep-rooted problem which runs through the profession.
Let’s face it. Journalism is one of the poorest paid professions in the world.
For the amount of work and effort put in, the returns are often poor. With work concentrated towards nightshifts, the whole life becomes upside down. Family life goes for a toss, children are neglected and evenings are a luxury to be enjoyed once in a while. Add to that the immense tension with deadlines, breaking stories and keeping things accurate, life becomes the newspaper and newspaper alone.
In big cities where commuting is a long nightmare, journalists hardly see their wives if they are working. Life is worked out over the phone or the occasional simultaneous days-off.
This has often been manipulated by politicians, big firms and organisations. From decades, a press conference has the added lure of getting a “gift”. The type of gifts is directly proportional to the value of the news. A minor non-event may earn the journalist probably anything from branded watches, perfumes or even top of the range phones.
For example, nobody would refuse the latest iPhone if given for free. The medium interest news will still earn a decent gift like a wallet or pens.
The political game is something else. They get to increase their influence by making friends in high places and gain big favours. Reporters have been known to be gifted flats, cars, hard cash etc if they can tilt the report towards their benefactors.
The situation is getting dangerous now. The media today is being run by bosses who fall to the lure of the lucre and manipulate their low-paid journalists to do their dirty work. Most news are cooked up, biased, advertorials or just an extension of Page 3. Money rules the media and nothing else.
You can buy news, get it manufactured to suit your purpose or show only one side of the picture. The very sanctity of journalism has been breached by bags of gold. Those who are honest get hounded. This is the new reality of journalism. You can laugh at those cutlery stealers but they did what others may do.
The bottom line is that journalists have fame, know people but no money. The temptation is huge. Not many can say “Get thee behind me, Satan”.
Money has become the mojo of the once revered profession.
#All views expressed in this article are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.