By Farman Nawaz
The life span of the news is just a few hours and then it goes to the belly of the reporting dustbin. As long as a journalist is writing, he is alive and well in the world of journalism but he is forgotten soon after his death. Even the news of his death does not become breaking news. Poets, philosophers, actors, singers and army men are remembered for decades but well-informed and outspoken journalists leave this world noiselessly and, after a few years, no one remembers them and their contributions.
Bhutto is alive even today, a lot of people know who Habib Jalib was, amateurs learn acting by copying Dalip Kumar and novices learn singing through songs by Rafi. However, after 30 years very few people would like to become like our present crop of prominent journalists. Perhaps, if I am not wrong, people might not even know their names at that time. Why? The answer is very simple. A poet understands the voice of the broken heart and writes the thoughts that make the heart a slave of the brain. An actor tries to simplify the controversies of society and presents an idea of success, truth and sincerity. A singer attaches the wings of emotions to the words of a poet and tries to amuse broken hearts. A philosopher endeavours to find a middle way between controversies and interests, and avoids the road that leads to violence and war. An army man sacrifices for his nation and nurtures the ideology of nationaism.
What does a journalist do? Usually the job of a journalist is to inform the people about day-to-day happenings and to arrange this information in the shape of an inverted pyramid answering the ‘what, when, where, who, why and how’. The reason for arranging this information in an inverted pyramid is to convey the important information in descending order and to discard the unnecessary details. However, now the news stories consist of ‘what and why’ and then the same why is made spicy. The news story is often opinionated and is partial analysis. Journalists and analysts try to impose their own opinion on the public. This has become more evident in television shows after the arrival of the electronic media.
Political analysis has flaws and it takes very long for the public to indicate its flaws but nowadays when journalists are trying to conclude the political scenario in a few articles or television shows, it is very easy for even the common masses to point out the flaws in the analysis. Even the predictions of meteorological departments are more accurate and appealing to the public than political analysis. Their analysis seems like an item song to the public, which might add flavour to the movie but is not relevant to the script of the movie.
It is a fact that neither in the past nor in the present have journalists been heroes for the common man and the reason behind this is that, so far, journalists have been unable to set an example and standard for the future of journalism. Poets, philosophers, actors, singers and army men are playing their roles to contribute to the future of their fields. What the journalist is contributing to his field is similar to a heap of sand. Social media and blogs have already changed the field of journalism. Today, journalists are becoming commodities for the electronic media. Journalists are also sold like commodities. This trade of commodities has no future for journalists.
People remember the lines of poems, the thoughts of philosophers, the roles of actors, the songs of singers and the heroic events of army men. But do they remember the role of journalists? Do they remember the journalists and reporters who die every year? Do they remember the predictions made by analysts? These are open-ended questions left for us journalists.
The writer is a freelance columnist