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Emotion Versus E-motion

Dedicated to my colleagues…

It is commonly said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Going by this statement, an indefinite but emphatically large number of words are being created in the brains of the viewers through the images shown by the Electronic Media throughout the day. Hence, it can be said that we, all, are floating in this large body of information. The ups and downs of the audience have become clear in India after heated debates on the Social Media over Electronic Media coverage of the Super Cyclone Yash that hit the eastern Indian provinces of West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand on May 23-25, 2021. In an article, noted Indian novelist Ketaki Kushari Dyson (b. June 26, 1940) had written: “There is no better news for the Media than bad news. As if the Media have an ultimate right to horrific information about accidents, riots, epidemics, floods, wars, genocides, etc. Perhaps, it is our destiny to be burdened with bad news for the sake of Right to Information. The Right to Information has failed to make us more responsible.

Speaking at a press conference in 1980, Hubert Beuve-Méry (January 5, 1902 – August 6, 1989) – the Founding Editor of the leading French daily ‘Le Monde‘ – had stated that “the newspaper is such a dream that we collectively see day after day”. He also said: “A great newspaper is to rebuild a sand castle every day with a teaspoon.” Although the Online Media were not so popular in the West in the 1980s, the French journalist’s words are still relevant (even for the Online Media, as well as the Electronic Media). Here, the term ‘collective’ includes news producers, anchors, reporters, editors and of course viewers or listeners or readers (in case of television, radio and broadsheets, respectively)! As far as this living dream is concerned, the role of the viewers is the most important, as it has become a Social Habit, over time.

Hubert Beuve-Méry

Media-driven dreams are not imaginary… they are definitely tied very closely to facts and information. These dreams have a relation with Moral and Social Culture, and also with a sense of Restraint. The media coverage of the recent cyclone, issues related to the Government’s failure to tackle the natural disaster, and jokes on the Social Media in this regard have hurt the Public Sentiment. Like every other profession, Journalism, too, is a Profession in the end. Journalists, like other professionals, are capable of making mistakes. However, the most difficult challenge faced by a journalist is to balance her/his professional duties and personal emotions.

Journalism requires both passion and emotion. Without the fluctuations of adrenaline, the write-up of a journalist eventually turns into an eyewitness’ account. It is also a fact that it takes real courage to file reports from a war zone or from a disaster zone. Hence, it becomes crucial for a journalist to control the fluctuations of adrenaline in order to file unbiased reports. In other words, Passion should be controlled by Common Sense and Judgment. This is called Professionalism. Journalists should be well aware of the difference between literary writings and journalistic writings. Once, the Literary Editor of Observer, Cyril Vernon Connolly (September 10, 1903 – November 26, 1974), had said: “Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice. Journalism what will be grasped at once.

Undoubtedly, the fluctuations of adrenaline happen more often in the case of Electronic Media staff. Employees of Print Media are their co-fighters. The bus service between Srinagar (India) and Muzaffarabad (Pakistan) was scheduled to start on April 19, 2005 for the first time after the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent. The day prior to the scheduled journey, the terrorists launched attacks on a Guest House where the travellers were spending the night. The Indian Army had retaliated almost immediately, and the crossfire stunned the media persons, assembled there to cover the story of historic bus service. Next day, the major Indian dailies published images of the terror attacks that took place the previous night. No one can predict such events beforehand. However, it is customary for the Army Personnel and Journalists to be prepared for any untoward incident in Kashmir at any time. In the first decade of the 21st Century, there were very few television channels. However, the cameramen, who were present in Srinagar on that eventful day, had played an important role. To record the best shot, they tried their best to come closer to the Guest House, taking immense risk. They wanted to share the images of the event with millions of viewers.

Ground conflict reporting

Media persons, usually, risk their lives only to bring out the essence of an event or to inform people about the Objective Truth. It cannot be possible without intense emotion. At the same time, they need to show Common Sense and Judgment; otherwise, facts will become unrealistic or surreal. Then only, people will not be burdened with information, and the description of reality will not seem exaggerated. Also, Dreams can be created in a collective manner. Those dreams are not mere imagination, but reflections of the facts.

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