Debates, arguments and discussions are a routine in journalists' WhatsApp groups. Probably it's a professional trait. We don’t like to sit quiet; we have questions for everything and everyone, for our lives revolve around 5Ws and 1H.
But the Sushant Singh Rajput death case and the accusations against his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty over the last one week have clearly divided media in Delhi. The division is evident from the fact that print and TV journalists have agreed to disagree. It’s a phrase generally used in English when opposing parties tolerate each other's views but don’t accept the opposing position.
I am part of several women media WhatsApp groups and I haven’t seen such a heated debate where print and TV women journalists have taken their medium of news reporting so seriously that they have lost the track of their "duties" and what is “justified”.
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While print journalists claim they still hold the principles of journalism high, TV journalists argue it's their responsibility to take over the role of investigative journalists in this high-profile case and ask tough questions to bring out the truth. Although investigation in today’s era is more about “leads” from the investigating officers and agencies rather than journalists getting something new and groundbreaking on their own.
From the discussion in these WhatsApp groups, it seems the divide -- and, of course, the animosity -- between the print and TV has widened to such an extent that both sides have decided to boycott each other’s medium. While print journalists say they have stopped watching TV, calling it a nuisance, broadcast journalists, too, have stopped reading newspapers. They argue: "What’s new in a newspaper, for it is already out on TV a night before?" Sorry, but I am party to it.
As journalists, we can’t be jury and the judge. But the way Sushant Singh Rajput's case was covered by TV news channels, it seems journalists associated with the broadcast medium have become investigating officers. Print journalists, on the other hand, are somehow keeping the flag of journalism high.
It reminds me of a piece of investigative reporting in the high-profile case of Sheena Bora. When the case had hogged the limelight in 2012, I was a part of a national newspaper. My colleague had managed to get Sheena’s personal diary from her Guwahati residence. She had managed to get it after winning family and friends’ confidence and trust over the days. The investigating agencies were not aware about it, so it wasn’t a lead too. The diary gave an interesting insight into her relationship with her parents.
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Next time when you watch TV or read newspapers, magazines or online news, remember: you are entitled to your own choices. You choose what you read and watch. It’s time media should rest this case.
(Views expressed are personal)