Saturday, September 06, 2014

Is journalism passe?

You wont see this article in any newspaper.

Long long ago, the only way to consume news was through a newspaper. So the newspaper appointed many people to 'report' from the ground. These reporters were the lowest rung of newspaper staff. They walked around localities, went up to police stations, hospitals and reported from there. This news was aggregated and then sorted by importance by next level reporters and editors. And then based on the space, the news was then reported to you and me the next day.  Note that anything that is so access controlled is a hallmark of a closed industry.

Take any industry before the digital revolution or the industrial revolution. Photographers were rare. Those who had access to cameras became photographers - that is pretty much it. Now with digital pictures, everybody is a photographer. See how many 4 year olds take pictures in weddings these days. With instagram, suddenly everybody is a photographer. With a blog, anybody who can write well will write. Like the printing press made it easier to own books.

In those days, only those had access to a newspaper had the moniker of a journalist. Like only those had cameras were photographers. Its like saying only those who have watches can tell the time. Today if you are on the spot of an accident or a event, you are the reporter. And that is blogs and twitter help you do. And there is no similar format in newspapers. Today, therefore, anyone is a journalist in the truest sense - if you can sit through one issue, analyse and report out and usually you will do it better than a journo who is copy pasting at best.

The middlemen school of journalists still exists. That means, you and I cannot interview a politician - especially like Rahul Gandhi whose team will script answers for you to publish. For that you need middlemen, not journalists. But if a Narendra Modi reaches people directly through social media annd other channels, he does not need middlemen journos.

Real journos report from the field where stuff is happening. They report from the boondocks where nobody goes. They report from far flung areas - not from the comfort of airconditioned rooms. They read through judgements and analyse. They work on issues and amaze us with their indepth knowledge - usually not got through plain googling. Such journalism is clearly not passe.

But nobody needs middlemen as journos - because everybody is a reporter remember and so are you!

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