Shoe Flinging : An Act Most Reprehensible

Some journalists appear to be gripped with the virus, which commands them to become from news provider to newsmaker, that too, not through assiduous efforts but by their cheap and abominable deeds. Thanks to deep and pervasive reach of the media such journalists do get wide publicity, which serves to their perverted desires and goals.

It is a welcome evolution indeed that journalism has metamorphosed from ‘Mission to ‘Profession’. Objectivity becomes the easy causality in missionary journalism. Even today it can be witnessed in the politically or religiously indoctrinated newspapers or magazines. For example, nobody accepts objectivity from the ‘People’s Democracy’, ‘New Age’, ‘Christian Times’, ‘Radiance’, ‘Organiser’, ‘Panchjanya’, or ‘Desabhimani’. These newspapers and magazines purvey certain facts and comments, which reflect to their political or religious lines. Preponderance of missionary zeal is essential in such type of journalism.

Most of the newspapers or magazines in India, however, claim to pursue the independent line. That is why; people give more credence to independent newspapers and magazines. Independence is the key to objectivity and professionalism. In fact, independence, professionalism, objectivity and credibility are interwoven. The less objectively means the less independence and the less professionalism which would ultimately lead to erosion of credibility. There can hardly be two opinions that corrupt/ indoctrinated journalists cause immense damage to the profession. These toxic journalists misuse the forum of newspapers and magazines to sub serve to their own personal interests rather than doing well for the journalism or the society. They sneak into journalism to gain accessibility to the high and mighty or importance persons and capitalise that into terms of money other personal gains. They are no better than serpents of the grass.

We have abounding examples of journalists, who have amassed wealth hundreds or thousands of times more than their known source of their incomes. But hardly any journalist has been caught so far in the net of corruption, primarily because of their connections at the right place. Many journalists have made their profession the springboards to climb in politics to become MPs or MLAs. Journalists have always been known for their notorious habits of free wining and dining but their rapacity for wealth and power is relatively a new passion.

With the advent of electronic journalism the magnitude of economic or other corruption among has increased manifold. Readers and audience are taken for granted by these journalists. Many times fairness is crucified in the subtle manner but often it is done in the most uncouth and crude manner.

Recently, a new trend of flinging shoes has been started by the journalists in the press conferences. This is the most condemnable and unpardonable act on the part of the journalists. A journalist is permitted to attend the conference because he or she is the representative of the newspaper or magazine. And the latter has been given license for dissemination of news or views. This unwritten covenant authorises the journalist to have access even to prohibited places so as they can work for their organisations for the sake of the general public.

But if a journalist uses the forum of the media to vent his/her personal feeling or ire, it is nothing but downright corruption and dishonesty on the one hand, and an act of lunatic behaviour, on the other. Such mentally deranged persons ought not to be defended by any body, particularly by journalists’ community.

Of late, a journalist, Jarnail Singh, working for a Hindi daily Dainik Jagran threw his sneaker at PC Chidambaram, the home minister, in a Press Conference. His misconduct has been wrongly equated with that of an Iraqi Journalist, who chucked his shoes on the American President George W.Bush during his press meet.

What is more distressing is that many journalists, who never get tired of delivering homilies are now trying to defend the egregious misdeed of Jarnail Singh by saying that his cause was right but method was wrong. But the fact is that, neither his cause nor his action was right. Home Minister PC Chidambaram was also wrong in interfering in the process of law from taking its own course by not allowing the police to lodge the criminal case against him.

The Press Conference cannot be the place or the occasion to adopt such nasty methods for obtaining replies from the person, who addresses it. A journalist is well within his/ her right to ask even awkward questions for eliciting information for the benefits of public, because the media have the fiduciary relationship with its readers/ watchers but media person has certainly got no right to enter into unsavoury arguments with the person addressing the conference.

How could Jarnail Singh say that his cause was right? The press-conference was not organised to redress the grievance of any particular person or community. If he was so worked-up with his so-called right cause then he should been to some other place to demonstrate or protest.

Now some people say that Jarnail Singh is a man of cool and composed mind and he did it in the heat of passion. This argument is ridiculous and preposterous. A rapist cannot take the plea to mitigate his crime that he was blind with passion. Tomorrow if some debate or discussion is going on in Parliament or assemblies and if a journalist sitting in the Press gallery becomes angry with the line of argument of the concerned speaker and throws, his chappals on him, can he/she take the shelter of passion for his/her maniac behaviour. Certainly not. A person; who cannot have restrain over his/her feelings, however strong they may be, he/she has not right to be journalist. He/she must be sent to mental asylum for check-up and treatment. That is what should be done with Jarnail Singh. It is good for him and the society both.