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“Unbiased journalism can’t expire” – Pride to be only parallel media in India

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afternoon voice, avoice, afternoon, 13 anniversary, 13th anniversary, vaidehi taman, vaidehi

These days media is abused, they are alleged with numerous adjectives. Their credibility has declined. I don’t blame anyone for this, neither media nor the people of this country. The journalist abides accountability before society in general, before the law and before the professional connotation. The social responsibility of the journalist requires that he acts in accordance with his personal ethical standards. Journalists the main goal is to guarantee the right of citizens and people to truthful and important information, which allows them to form an adequate impression about social processes, their essence and importance, about the situation in today’s world.

Even the readers, a citizen of this country, need to introspect about the double standards that they carry. Everyone wants journalists to be honest and unbiased. The question is that, do we really respect neutral reporters, newspapers and broadcasters? Ask me what the pain of being impartial is. They are attacked from all sides, and for not taking one particular stand no one stands by them.

This happens with me; I criticize and praise every political party. Whenever I write something against Congress, I am labelled as a BJP supporter, if I write against Modi I am branded as Congress paid media or AAP supporter. We don’t really like neutral journalists, because they are not always what we expect. They speak their mind being unbiased but that is harsh and not easy to digest. Mass media freedom is one of the major guarantees of the freedom of speech, an obligatory element for ensuring other civil rights and freedoms. The freedom of the press involves the possibility to freely discuss and criticize the activities of both the authorities and civil and private structures. Journalists contribute to the realization of the right to express unpopular opinions or agree with the point of view expressed by the majority. The journalist must defend the freedom of speech; retain the independence of his/her political views and convictions. He/she must resist any efforts to misrepresent information or introduce restrictions. Like any other citizen, the journalist has a right to political and other convictions. However, in his/her professional activity he/she should remain neutral and objective.

The journalist should do his/her best to acquire information from all possible sources, to make sure it is complete, truthful and unbiased. The information which may upset or embarrass a person should be checked prudently. Respecting the right of society to objective information, the journalist must convey truthful information and a whole spectrum of opinions on certain issues. Today journalism is in the custody of corporate houses, mafia and politicians, if media goes into wasted people’s hands you cannot expect a hundred per cent truthfulness. Their banner power is bigger than the reporter/anchor or editor. To fight this evil of the fourth estate, we stood all alone as a self-funded organization but people have yet to accept us as we are small media. People don’t want to give priority to small media groups as their reach is limited and such media houses may not help them reach wide.

I am fortunate to have a good number of readers and trusting us for our integrity. Unbiased journalism does not mean that journalists should refrain from expressing their personal opinions. However, the reader should be able to tell the difference between the articles stating facts and materials expressing someone’s opinion or interpretation of events.

However, this principle should not limit the journalist in choosing the style of writing. The journalist should not be a presenter for anyone’s interest. We avoid making mistakes, if at all, then we immediately correct mistakes quickly and incompletely. Corrections of significant mistakes should be published without delay in a visible place. We are not robots.

Expression of emotions is expected. To conceal disappointment, anger, or compassion at human suffering would be dishonest. Yet emotions in journalism can be over-used and manipulated. We need the freedom to breathe, to do justice to this profession. Unwanted and unexpected moral policing and taunting may discourage us from doing well.

For me this journey was not easy, when I was terminated from a media house for not writing what exactly my publisher wanted me to write (that was a one-sided story on a politician, whom the publisher was supporting), I decided to have my own publication, but every venture needs money. No one took me seriously when I express about having my own newspaper.

I had one house which was of my father after his death that got transferred to me. I mortgaged it and had some finance to fulfil my dreams. It’s been five years since the constant struggle. Everything is fresh in memory. The reason to start the endeavour, the reason to cope up with the trends, the challenges against the ethics, those threatening phone calls from the impotent and many other ways of spamming on social networks and the ever famous blogs against me. There have been millions of incidents and many of them I do not want to recall at all, which have tried to delude us in our way. We have skipped the hurdles and reached so far, the next level is still to arrive.

Starting from year one, the first problems which we faced were finances. The lack of finances where one lady had to toss the gambling coin in the air, with a possibility of either getting it or losing it all and guess what, we had the heads and ‘tails’ soon followed. It was totally a game of guts that we did. So far, the media was always owned by the ‘rich or ‘capitalists’ who had their own backing and they rely on them. Thus, the basic idea of parallel media died and pseudo-journalism flourished right from the early times. It was surely difficult for all of us to survive in the market.

The pehchaan; required from distributing the newspapers to holding up the cameras, it was a true challenge against the odds but the challenge was accepted and it had to be won, after all, my only house was on the mortgage for the gamble. Soon after the first year passed, we tried to dive into the various fields and tried to explore the potential talents from various phases of life. One of which was the hackers’ industry, which is just like underworld life. People are always hiding behind the scenes and we took up the challenge of exploring it, thus, our monthly niche Hacker5 was born.

Soon, our journey continued and year after year we finally completed three years, which was last year. The honour of having a television media was about to succeed but, unfortunately, we again met the wrong people at the right time and right place. Though there was a slight setback that was not enough to stop us. We have promised to go ahead and reach out to keep extending our own records, year after year.

2013, our award event was graced by his gracious Late Balasaheb Thackeray honoured us and accepted the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from us. It was truly an honour to have been blessed by the person who was the living legend and had times when he actually ruled the city. Soon, as life passes, even he made his glorious journey to the afterlife. We thought following his principles of being honest to the journalism, being unbiased and presenting the facts as it is, as much as possible, letting the masses judge us. Some people have taken away powers from the people but we believe in giving power back to the people.

Thus, we even came up with the idea of letting the common man or the citizens of India speak up and give out news about anything and everything that they feel is happening with factual evidence, thus citizen journalism was flourished. With power back to the people, it feels like to have accomplished a revolution. There were gimmicks of stopping us, various hurdles like income tax raid in our office, which made us wait for about three days and this happened thrice. We kept on keeping our words of saying that we are honest but we let them do their work, peacefully. By now even the income tax office must have our office address in their mind. The event of coming out clean from various challenges itself was the proof that we no need to show more proof of our honesty and dedication.

Honesty comes with a huge price and we are constantly investing in it, without hesitation. Such things do not affect us anymore, which includes RTI for what we do.

Wise once said, if you speak a lie, you need to remember and be smarter but if you speak the truth, you just have to remember the event and rest the God stands right next to you.

With high regards to my readers who have kept us strong and high respect to people who have taken the time out and contributed in our journey, thanks is a small word for them. We have pulled our socks with this 5th year, soon to hit 1567 days of our glorious journey, we stand up with the pride of being what we are today and will continue carrying on with it. Any hurdles may come but we are committed to being… unstoppable.

Beyond the newsstands for our team. Unshaken and totally dedicated! This was a long year for us. Several incidents had occurred in the country. The media houses were stormed by the events that shook the world. We were equally in rush to cover almost everything with different aspects of that event’s existence. There has been a repeated clear indication that something is going wrong and then there were good moments for our Indians fellow too.

The rise and falls, the ups and downs, many stories untold and many unheard, still we tried covering them all.

From a small team that rose from the ground till we skyrocketed! Today, we have worked more than 1000 days and have made a mark in the hearts of our readers. With our readers’ affection and faith, we have stood strong, stood against the odds and even after the hat-trick; we have this extended hat-trick where we again stand with pride to say. We have stood the test of time and have proclaimed ourselves as the only parallel media in the country which brings to you the as it is news, articles and commentary editorials. Surely, the one who notices evil finds that is just the other side of the same coin. Similarly, we aspire to capture the entire view and show you various traits right from every angle possible. We do not bias ourselves or strangle ourselves by becoming politically correct. For truth, to be blunt, bold and totally awesome, is our motto at Beyond the News (BTN). The wide coverage of our fortnightly magazine has been consistent in portraying truth for four years now and we aspire to continue the same.

The journey was difficult but difficulties are the only things which are guaranteed in life, isn’t it? We have embraced the challenge of running the show and we have proved it, once and for all that running a media house is no more game of the capitalists only. Money is the most important factor to run anything in this world, even your car needs cash to sustain itself. We are not even playing puppets with anyone, how do we ensure money? Struggle story is always aspiring and very inspiring towards growth but no one understands where it pinches in the shoe, except the one who is actually wearing it. If your heart is true to what you wish to do, everything is possible. Beyond the news was introduced to be our blunt mouthpiece with no hesitations in expressing the political and illogical games that are being played in the country.

From Arvind Kejriwal’s fast unto death, which keeps breaking even before his demands are met, his liberal thoughts and so on. Modi and his political moves, Rahul Gandhi and his repeated broadcast of foolishness on the social media, IIPM owning the government, Prime Minister going on foreign tours, the Sanju-Katju jugalbandhi (jammin) and our nuclear tests which are being conducted, South Korean Gangnam style and North Korea’s threat (Nah! they are joking). The voice of people has taken a toll over the past few months and over the repeated incidents, people have become more and more intellectual, politically sound and optimistic towards the opportunities. The growth of the country and the decline of the economics are all tied up into one. The last year which we spent seems like a story summed up over the nightly full of caffeine running across the membranes and still pushing our adrenaline rush into the veins as we typed the stories for you, the readers!

The awesomeness of movies which came out in the past year has taught us all many lessons too; about the politics, about the way people run the show and about the way people make sure that nothing stops them. It would be a wonder for you to know how we have grown. If you asked what happened two years ago and how politics controlled the country, you would have a different story, so did we. The evolution of thoughts is no more the cul de sac of people owning the media; it is even across the people. The stories which are shown to the people have come transparent and we believe, we have shown you what has been even the more transparent, a clear picture. We have grown up and we promise to keep growing. I will steal it from Wikileaks but with your support and love, we will never stop. Keep us strong!

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for past 16 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs. Besides journalism, she is also an Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author.
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