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ournalism in India, print, electronic or web, has undergone a sea change and the media has changed its face several times over a period of time. The media, in its entirety, showed its chameleon colors ever since the first newspaper in India, a weekly called ‘Hickey's Bengal Gazette’, was first published on January 29, 1780.

Gone were the days when Mahatma Gandhi, whose journalistic career spanned nearly four decades at a time when there was neither radio nor television, taught the world journalistic community the basics of journalism; unswerving adherence to truth, pursuit of public causes, and objectivity in presentation.

The nine elements of journalism

The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), launched in 1997, released nine basic principles of journalism after four years of meetings, discussions, surveys and research.

The mass communication segments such as the print, electronic and web media should always abide by the nine elements of journalism to keep their professional excellence. They are commitment to truth, loyalty to the citizens, verification of news before publication, application of independent mind, collection of accurate news, ability to work as a watch dog, publication of relevant news, practice to keep off sensationalism and commitment to ethics and responsibility.

The onset of internet and the emergence of web media into journalism along with the sprout of TV channels had seen the birth of negative or yellow journalism where the concentration would be only on sensationalistic story presentation for attracting TRP (Television Rating Points) and getting more advertisements.

Web media has gone a step overboard and is passing through a phase of unbridled indulgence in falsification of events or incidents and character assassination as there is no particular administrative authority to monitor its activity.

As a result, the media, especially the electronic and web instruments had made it a point to survive on presentation of lurid topics all the time. Their transmogrification is only towards a negative or yellow journalism rather on concentration towards being a Good Samaritan to the society.

No controlling authority for web media

It must be noted that the print media is guided by the guidelines of Press Council of India where as the TV channels and the web media have not yet found a controlling authority for them. There is an emergent need to bring the news TV channels and the entire web media also into the jurisdiction of the Press Council of India to provide freedom to the users from reading, visiting and watching obscene stuff and content containing false news, partial and lopsided presentations, character assassination of individuals, provoking visuals and emotional black mailing.

Most of the TV channels and web sites, including the national ones, don’t care to provide realistic and just content with varied viewer insights that really matter. Rather, they concentrate on things, events and activities that catch people’s attention easily, irrespective of their relevance to the society.

Some Web medias which is in the news for violating all journalistic ethics, has developed a dangerous tendency to stray into arrogance, elitism, isolation or nihilism paving the way for their indulgence in frivolous use and exploitation of things for commercial gain.

As Oscar Wilde said, the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Certain TV channels and news portals, having a decisive mind to make money, are unleashing yellow journalism, cheap and unusable content on the news lovers turning them into slaves of a particular brand of journalism that takes them to the brink in the long run.

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