Imagine you lost your wallet in a crowd; you ask people if they have seen it, but in the midst of the chaos your voice goes unheard. A man walks up to you, hands you a loudspeaker, and voila, you have people’s attention. That is what journalists are to the common man; a medium through which they can be heard.
We put our faith in journalists to shake off our biases using honesty and facts. We give them our voice in the hope of being heard and lend them our ears in the hope that they will receive some truth. These representatives of democracy have immense power, and a chance to bring about change. But unsurprisingly, power corrupts and greed can be blinding. There are some who perhaps do not understand the intensity of the responsibility that lies with them, so they trivialise their jobs into businesses.
Sometimes they voice their own biases and call them the truth. Other times they peevishly intrude into other people’s personal space, add spice to reality and call it “news”. They often forget that the subject of their front-page-shocker is an actual person, not void of feelings. I know this because I have been a subject.
When Kamlesh Chaudhry and Dr Pal sat in a jail cell, they decided I was the root of all their problems and joined hands to defame me as part of a revenge scheme. Dr Sumit and I were framed with doctored, inappropriate images that were edited to ensure we lose respect in the eyes of the conservative people of Pratappur. I felt helpless as the people who once treated me with heart-warming respect looked disappointed and in some cases even angry as if I had let them down. Another reality was that people would rather accept a scandalous lie over the bland truth to keep their conversations interesting. Criminals and lawbreakers supported by money and connections, sat behind bars and decided the news of the day and suddenly Dr Sumit and I became objects of judgement for the people of Pratappur. I was lucky to have my family believe me when it was so easy for them to not.
It would be rather foolish of me to expect morality from those who could not even respect human life, but it is a part of a journalist’s duty to be moral, or he fails at his job of bringing forward the truth. Prabhakar and RP Shukla, the editor of the newspaper, put their integrity in the backseat and failed their profession and the readers. Most importantly they failed those who could have used their voice to tell a story that is in desperate need of being told. All this to sell some more copies of a newspaper.