Who will Speak for Non-Celebrity Journalists

Some journalists telephoned me yesterday to know my reaction about the easing out of some media persons from the ABP News. I told them that the natural reaction of any trade union organisation or its office- bearers will be to condemn the decision of the management. Therefore, my reaction as the Secretary-General of the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ) will be obvious to denounce the action of the management. More so, when I have myself been victimised from a newspaper because of my trade union activities.

Although these persons do not have even the remote connection with any trade union activity, they have been careerists to the core and never have had any concern or sympathy for the struggling media employees. A few years ago some people requested me to extend legal help to one Srivastava, who was unceremoniously thrown out of the NDTV (again not for raising any demand for the cause of the employees). One of my friends got me contacted on his mobile phone but he politely refused to take any help because as a journalist he did not want to be drawn into any legal battle with the management. Thereafter, one Mr Malviya, who was working for any TV channel met the same fate. Some well-wishers of Mr Malviya asked him to file a case against his termination. He told them that he was not at all interested in going to the court because that would spoil his chances of getting employment and that is true also to a great extent.

My personal experience is that these career-oriented so-called good journalists do not have even an ounce of courage to speak against the owners of media houses. They refuse to join unions because of the fear of being thrown out of the employment. However, till they are in employment they will vociferously cry for the freedom of the speech and expression, but they keep their mouth sealed when it comes to fighting for the rights of the journalists. In fact, they shamelessly work against the employees to be in the good books of their management. I have found most of them cowards to the core, sycophants and self-centric.

Some years ago, a function was organised by the ETV and the Bhadas4Media, a portal for media persons in the Deputy Speaker Hall of New Delhi, where I was also invited as one of the speakers along with many journalists including Punya Prasoon Bajpai, who is now removed from the ABP and Rahul Dev. An IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh Amitabh Thakur was also one of the speakers and if I remember it well he exhorted the journalists to be fearless. Thereafter, I was asked to speak, and I said that the courage was the rare commodity. Most of the journalists would pose to be courageous till their management wanted them to be so. I told them that when we were staging the demonstration for the Majithia Wage Boards across the road outside Shram Shakti Bhawan, there were only two or three journalists in the demonstration and the crowd consisted of mainly non-journalists.

When the Majithia Wage Board report was submitted to the government, most of the journalists holding high positions in the channels and newspapers ignored it for fear of their management. All our requests for publication or broadcast of the news item fell on deaf ears of the so-called bold journalists. The Majithia Wage Board case was heard for many years in the Supreme Court of India but except Mr Venkateshan of ‘The Hindu’ nobody showed even an iota of courage to report the proceedings of the court. Even the judgement of the Supreme Court was not reported in the channels or newspapers. This is the sad state of affairs of the mentality of journalists. Twopenny editors have been found to be hollow and the worst flatterers. There is hardly any connection between their words and deeds.

Thousands of employees, journalists and non-journalists included, have been victimised in the media houses like those of the Hindustan Times, Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, Rajasthan Patrika and the NDTV but no support has support has come for them from the familiar-faced journalists. When somebody requests them to extend their support in fighting for their cause they just run away. Therefore, those who are shedding tears for anchors removed from the ABP must also encourage them to work for the larger interests of journalists instead of becoming the hangers-on of the politicians of one hue or the other or the proprietors of the media houses.