n eminent face of journalism Raju Parulekar has made a mark with over six thousand interviews so far in his career span, which includes several dignitaries such as late Vilasrao Deshmukh, late Gopinath Munde, Raj Thackeray, Sushilkumar Shinde, Chhagan Bhujbal and the list goes on. This political analyst also excels in the field of writing that covers columns, books, and poems. In a conversation with Afternoon Voice correspondent Twinkle Mehta, the award winning journalist shares his views on the situation of modern era’s journalism compared to the old-school journalism.
Indian media has seen an era of Doordarshan and Radio journalism as well as today’s journalism, where there are multiple options for news, what according to you are the advantages and disadvantages of both the eras of journalism?
In the earlier era, the source to procure news and people who watched the news were less compared to today. The news was authentic, people took efforts in reporting and the news was not management-centric but editor-centric. But today, people participation has increased, trolls have increased and the news is management centric.
As it is observed recently, where two journalists were sacked for criticising the ruling government and previously the I&B Minister made an effort to shut the voice of media by imposing various laws. If this continues to happen, where do you think the Indian media will lead to in the future?
It will be like Venezuelan or Philippine media; puppets in the hands of the government. People in the media itself are passive about their suppression, which is one of the reasons for such kind of authoritarian.
During the Emergency period, the Indira Gandhi government had tried to suppress the media which was not tolerated by the public. We can see the same scenario happening with the present ruling government. Do you think this time again, after decades, the public will take a stand on the same?
No, I don’t think so because times have changed and consumerism and self-centeredness are at its peak in this society.
It is often heard that with the increasing digitisation, there are chances of print media declining in the future, while many have opposed to this view considering the print media as an essence of journalism, what is your take on the same?
No, It’s not declining. In fact many new journals, periodicals, and magazines are arriving. Digitisation has its boundaries with its reach limited to the metro cities, so print media can never go out of fashion.
Nowadays, TV channels prefer anchors who are more presentable with good looks rather than the reporters on the field to gain more viewers and TRP. How legitimate is this from the point of view of a journalist?
If a reporter is presentable having intelligence and skills then looks are a value addition. But, if skills and intelligence are compromised for looks then it’s not good journalism. Today’s trend is dangerous as it becomes a show media than journalism providing entertainment rather than hard-hitting journalism which is considered the fourth pillar of the democracy.
In the race to get exclusive stories, do today’s journalists lack a sense of authentication to come first? Also, have they lost a track to cover follow up stories in order to run a #breakingnews?
This is the journey of media from editor-centric media to management centric media where journalists are helpless as they want to follow-up but marketing department pursue their agenda which is not journalistic but materialistic. Ultimately, the focus is shifted from real news to entertaining news that stress upon breaking news which is inevitable under these circumstances but not irreversible.
The viewers see today’s media more biased than neutral, till what extent do you think it is true?
In today’s circumstances, every day we come across the pro-government propaganda and hence, there is no bar and limit to bow down before money and power. So we need journalistic checks and balances in every step and it should be of an objective nature, not subjective. Institutionalisation of journalism is much more needed than ever.
In the earlier time, the Prime Time debate shows were carried on a few prominent issues but today every channel is seen following the same format and on every petty issue. How justified is it to carry debates on such topics regularly and how helpful are these debate shows to the audience?
Whatever news feeds us is like a dose of daily soap in our living room. It’s propaganda for somebody either way. Such kind of news reporting should not be encouraged by the public at large.
The present government repeatedly accuses the news media for ‘fake news’, how do you feel as a journalist?
The present government is a product of propaganda. Everything about the present government is virtual, not real. So is their blame game!
Since you were a prominent face of the broadcast media as well who had interviewed many dignitaries from their respective fields, why aren’t you seen actively these days on TV? What are your plans for the comeback?
Basically, I am a writer and political analyst. This is the time for reflection and exploration. There is a major shift happening in the political and non-political scenario at the national and international level. I have plans to come up with a digital media as well as mainstream media to analyse the issues objectively at a larger scale.
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