Open Letter to Justice Katju- Mukesh Kumar

Dear Justice Katju.
I am glad that you have raised the question of quality of journalists and suggested to fix minimum qualification for the people who want to enter this noble profession. There is no doubt that today’s journalism has fallen way below our levels of our expectation. Especially when we watch our 24x7 news channels we find that they are doing everything but serious journalism. In fact they are breaking all the rules and forget to follow basic norms and ethics of journalism. They are providing entertainment by sensational and non news content and trying to become good marketable products to earn more and more profit.

Having said that, I must also point out that you are not looking at the complete picture and overreacting on a few things and perhaps overlooking certain basic reasons for this deterioration. Missing out on these would not help you achieve the ends that you are perhaps looking for... Here are some points you have over looked-
1-There is already a basic criterion for a new entrant and that is he or she should be a graduate. Having a degree or diploma from good journalism institute becomes added advantage for the candidates. But since the quality of education in all fields has gone down, Journalism is a casualty too.
2-The media has grown exponentially in the last two decades. It generated huge requirements of man power but that was in short supply. Therefore, media organization used what was readily available. Certainly it had an impact on Journalism. Mushrooming Journalism institutes have made the situation worse, as their primary motive is incremental and quick returns. Obviously quality is of little concern. 
3- Setting minimum qualification for the journalists will not serve any purpose. There is imminent need to improve the quality of education and training in journalism. I feel Justice Katju this is an uphill task. 
4-You have to understand that there are many things which can be learnt by doing. News sense cannot be developed in schools and understanding the gravity of the issues also demands time. Therefore you have to give time for that.
5-Teaching and training journalists is one side of the picture. You must see the forces which are shaping the media. The market forces or the corporate media has changed the character and role of the media. There is tabloidization of media where sensationalism sells. Entertainment in the name of Bollywood and Cricket is eating more the 50 percent time and space of the media. Now where is the space for serious journalism?
6- The marketization of the media or commoditization of the news has sidelined serious issues. Consequently, serious journalists also have been sidelined. If you remember, there was a time when news channels have stopped political coverage and all the senior reporters were forced to sit idle. There is no work for the reporters in the news channels who understand seriousness of subjects like culture, literature, science etc.
7-The institution of editor is either demolished or weakened. The news channels are looking for young faces which mean they don’t feel that experienced journalists are required. That is why you rarely see anchors on Indian news channel that are above the age of 50 while in BBC and CNN journalists anchor the show till the age of 80
8- While we talk about the quality of the journalists we must also discuss the problems and challenges journalists are facing nowadays. First of all, the working conditions are horrible in Indian media today. They are made to work for long hours with hardly any job security. They may be fired any time and nobody is there to protect them. The unions of journalists are very week today. There are instances of mass retrenchment in the last few years. Most journalists are scared and suffer job insecurity.. How can anybody work freely in such conditions? Moreover, the managements are promoting those people who are ready to serve their interests without bothering about the basic norms of journalism. It is obvious then that these people are sitting on key positions in newsrooms. Actual journalists are getting marginalized.
 9-Justice Katju, before going after journalists you must also see what kind of people are investing money in the media and what their intentions are. If their bonafides vis a vis journalism are questionable—their intent is the fringe benefits and not free and fair news, then you or me cannot control the deterioration we are witnessing today.
10- Before issuing licenses to broadcasters you should make arrangements to revoke the license of those who are not following the basics of media business and bringing disgrace to the profession. If Managing Director of a big media house is saying that we are not into the business of news but into the business of advertizing then why his license should not be revoked and all the facilities he is availing in the name of media should not be rescinded. After all doing paid news or making deals does not come under fair practices of media business.
11- Last but not the least, there are good sensible people in media as well. In fact 90 percent journalists are frustrated due to the present status of journalism and they would like to help you in making required changes. Before your crusade they have written hundreds of articles and organized countless seminars against the trends affecting the core of journalism. So don’t blame them, instead take them along so that we can together counter the situation effectively.
Thanks.
Mukesh Kumar
Oldest