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Journalists, teachers should 'pledge' not to be seen as loyal to particular political party

By NS Venkataraman*

It is inevitable that a coin has two sides. Similarly, every view can have an alternate view on any matter. It is very rare that all people think in the same way and agree on every point. Therefore, difference in views between individuals on any matter is nothing to be concerned about.
However, there are some professions , where the professional has to be strictly neutral and listen to all kinds of views carefully and dispassionately , look from different angles at the happenings around and then state the views on matters, that would be fair to the views and priorities from all sides, without giving impression about taking sides in any matter.
Professions like teaching and journalism call for such attributes amongst those who join these professions.
This requirement obviously implies that a teacher or a journalist cannot be an activist or agitator or be a participant in any political or sectarian group, which, if done, inevitably would be contrary to the ethos of the profession of teaching and journalism.
These days, sometimes, we see teachers and journalists pledging their loyalty to a particular political party or pressure group and involve themselves in activism in the name of fighting for what they consider as just cause. In other words, such professionals develop a closed mindset, with refusal to see the other point of view. In the process, they create an image of themselves as having “anti view” rather than impartial view.
This is happening too frequently these days and can be ignored only at the risk of losing the glorious reputation of the noble profession of teaching and journalism.
Truly, teachers are the builders of the quality mindset amongst the students in the formative age group and therefore, teachers have to be role models for the students. They have to teach the students to think objectively and train them in taking a holistic view on any matter and refrain from developing prejudiced mindset.
Students would get such a mindset, only if the teachers would conduct themselves with the lofty standards of being neutral, unprejudiced with capability of conducting dispassionate analysis . They should not only be so but also appear to be so.
In the same way, journalists have the duty to promote healthy and objective discussions amongst the people and guide them in developing an attitude of equanimity, tolerance and fairness in dealings. While the journalists are entitled to be critical on occasions, they should take extraordinary care to remain balanced in views, while making observations. Hate feelings and hateful utterances are un-journalistic behaviour.
Unlike teachers who largely operate in closed set up, journalists operate in vast areas and extended territory and therefore, any prejudiced voice of the journalists will have far reaching adverse implications on the overall societal behavior. The journalists may become a negative force, if they would not live upto the ethos of the profession, which is neutrality in outlook and approach.
Journalists would be able to play this lofty role expected of them , only if they would lead a lifestyle of simplicity and not aspiring for positions and power at any cost. Obviously, this implies they may have to sacrifice certain pleasures for the sake of the cause of journalism.
Many senior citizens think today that section of journalists are no more the fair and neutral journalists that they knew of.
Traditionally, journalists are viewed as a pillar of democratic society and they should be true to this role by having appropriate culture and value systems, that a progressive and forward looking society desperately need. The journalists have the duty and responsibility to ensure that they are recognized as dependable and trust worthy section of society that everyone can depend upon.
Traditionally, teachers and journalists are highly respected and are looked upon by the people as embodiment of wisdom and fairness. Such image should be further cultivated and strengthened.
In such circumstances, teachers and journalists functioning like activists and agitators is anachronism. One can not be an activist and at the same time remain as a journalist or a teacher.
The increasing tendency of teachers and journalists to take the role of activists need to be strongly disapproved and discouraged.
Who can do this better than the journalists and teachers themselves, who value ethos of profession and have the willingness and desire and courage to live upto the ethical and moral standards that the profession of teaching and journalism should have?
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*Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived

Comments

Arun said…
A thought-provoking post! I've been working as a journalist for a popular news channel for the past ten years. I make sure that I follow the ethos of my profession. I try hard to avoid the feeling of hatred on others. I read a lot of articles on journalism that helped me to mould myself as an ethical journalist.

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