Who is performing better in modern times–blogger or a journalist? This question has become relevant in our times when bloggers have made their presence felt in a big way across the globe. In our age when online publications are fast replacing print versions, one needs to evaluate the role of bloggers with fresh perspective. The people belonging to world of traditional media treat bloggers with disdain even as we find that most reputed brands have given healthy space to bloggers on their editorial page. It’s now commonplace to find bloggers contributing to newspaper columns on issues sensitive in nature. However, the sad reality is that people working in newspapers love to exhibit holier than thou attitude when contrasted with bloggers.
They find the role of bloggers not as reliable as journalists involved in print publication. In support of their viewpoint they cite their biased approach, lack of accuracy, lack of accountability, lack of originality and lack of multiple sourcing. In my eyes, since I am sandwiched in both the worlds, that’s a sweeping analysis. It’s not true. After all, social media is comprised of people belonging to journalistic circles, academic institutions and prestigious forums. So how can these responsible people enter in malpractices on social media forums? And if they are doing that on social media platforms then it’s hard to believe that in reputed print publications they remained above corrupt practices!!
In fact, social media enjoys terrific advantage over print media in a sense that contributors have the choice to present uncensored news by remaining above the biases of media houses and editors. True, a large number of are devoid of proper language and perfect style to convey their viewpoints but it’s presentation of facts and truth that really matters. That sabotages the lies spread by enlightened souls associated with print world!
There is merit in allegations leveled by big names in print media that bloggers often present one-sided stories in absence of multiple sourcing and often news when put under microscope proves to be false. I need to say that blogging in its nascent stage displayed such tendencies. Over the years it has matured as far as presentation of stories is concerned, shifting focus from details pertaining to one’s private life to cause-based blogging. Yes, many bloggers still depict lack of responsibility and are bit lazy in searching for right facts but that’s not suffice to whitewash their genuine efforts. Let’s not forget that how refined people in traditional media distorted the news items to serve vested interests. If that’s the case what’s the point in undermining the sincere efforts of people related with social media? That’s one of the important reasons as why it has emerged as a powerful alternative to traditional media, which is now dying a slow death.
We have many evidences wherein sponsored journalism has wrecked havoc. It’s no secret that sensationalism and rush for “breaking news” has wiped out the ethical values in field of journalism making journalists behave more like professionals than people in search of truth! For instance reckless journalism, which made mockery of one’s privacy, led to suicide of Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, the professor of Marathi at Aligarh Muslim University. In other incident, a female teacher named Uma Khurana faced deep humiliation when a fake sting operation showed her involvement in sex racket. Taking a look at the issue from a different angle, the emergence of people like Neera Radia who in name of media management influenced the making of news, made it clear that in days to come social media was about to emerge as perfect alternative to traditional media.
The rise of social media has not disappointed us considering the way it came to influence the happenings in big way in Egypt,Tunisia and Syria. The footage of protests and police repression presented in uncensored way by the social media activists led to ouster of cruel regimes in these nations. In fact, it became the primary method in mobilizing protests. Back in India, it was because of brilliant role played by the Internet activists which ‘led to prosecution of police personnel involved in the midnight crackdown on yoga guru Ramdev and his supporters in June last year’.
So we can see how these bloggers devoid of facilities, enjoyed by journalists, protected the foundation of democracy. Before undermining the bloggers one should not forget that they often do not enjoy privileges owned by journalists associated with media houses. That makes it difficult for them to track the sources and get versions of influential sources involved in particular happening.
On the other hand, Wikileaks revelations confirmed the fears that we had about the Iraq War: It was based more on concocted grounds than true facts. The point is who provided legitimacy to lies spread by U S government if not traditional media? This suppression of truth was the result of traditional media being hand in glove with U S government. Against this backdrop, it leaves me really stunned that journalists associated with traditional media sill wish to be treated as holy cow-the icons of perfection, accuracy, accountability and reliability.
I am not saying that bloggers are epitome of truth and perfection. They, like their counterparts in field of journalism, often churn out stories having facts blown out of proportion. In fact, the bloggers in India still behave, more or less, like a monkey with a razor blade. That because true facets of social media are still missing. Internet is still luxury and those who have it use it more for the entertainment’s sake than using it to promote real issues.
However, that’s one side of the story. The Indian bloggers, despite being placed in wretched conditions, are doing excellent work. Often their works remain ignored but that does not deter them to post good stories one after another. Doesn’t that speak volume about their spirit? After all, they do not receive fat salaries including perks like the journalists associated with big brands. They do not even get proper recognition. However, they sill manage to hog the limelight with stunning portrayal of issues happening at local, national and international level.
That’s why journalistic circle is trapped in insecurities of all sorts. The rise of bloggers or social media has limited the monopoly enjoyed by the media houses. The social media is not only capable of presenting news earlier than anyone else but also capable of making news reach to the people who really matter. No wonder the bloggers have bulldozed superiority complex traced in journalistic circles.
It’s understandable that bloggers need to act with more responsibility to emerge as more powerful medium. However, the governments across the globe have already started panicking. The countries like India have immediately amended the IT laws to curb the influence of bloggers and social media activists. In my eyes, social media is not adversary of traditional media. It’s a new platform that deals with missing elements of any issue. That means it act as complement to traditional media.
Unfortunately, they are comprised of underdogs, caught in conflicting situations. Still they manage to highlight issues in notable manner. In our world, money is needed to sustain the spirit of excellence. One expects standard performance from social media activists but nobody pays attention to their lack of resources, lack of money. At least, stop entering in mindless criticism if you have nothing to offer them for their survival. Let’s recognize the real worth of these champions of truth who are working day and night in selfless manner so that truth remains in our lives.