Our culture and values-Sustainability reporting:

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In a recent edition of a Bengali daily published 4 news of rape, one at park street, another at Katwa, Burdwan, third at Malda and the other at Howrah in their front page. Surprisingly those headlines were used the Bengali word Dharson (rape). If the newspaper had rightly thought the news as important to publish on the front page they could have used various alternate words available in Bengali dictionery. Interestingly, the editor of the daily news is also a woman and I am being a women feel sorry for her and can only say that she is disgrace to Bengali womens. This newspaper, which proudly challenges that except god they do not fear anybody.

This reminded me of a story in mythology.

A king and his minister were taking a stroll when a small sparrow flew around them, badgering the king to donate a coin.

The king tried to ignore its insistent demands, but the minister asked the king to give the sparrow a coin so that it would fly away leaving them in peace. As soon as the king gave the sparrow a coin, it flew around shouting to all, „the king got frightened of me and gave me a coin.“

The irritated king caught the sparrow and took away the coin. The released sparrow now started shouting at the top of its voice, „The king robbed a poor sparrow.“

The media is quick to blame the police when incidents of crime like Sexual Assault goes up in the city. When the cops act tough, they are blamed for acting too tough.

Police officers are caught in a web of demanding political masters, the cynical media, the powerful mafia which has the money and political clout, a burgeoning urban crime graph and the poor clueless law-abiding public who look up to the police for protection.

They have to satisfy all these stake-holders with a field force that lacks in technology and motivation! So why is it then, that our media sector (made up, usually, of intelligent and sensible folk) monumentally fails to inspire our society and continues to pursue a depressing, self-flagellating, problem focussed, cynical, finger pointing, disease model of journalism?

Either we begin to blame the politicians (often a proxy for anxiety around control and power) for not having courage, integrity or vision, or we blame the media’s role in holding a rather ugly mirror up to its public and furthering the creation of a risk and fear has driven modernist society.

What’s interesting is that the conversation usually slows to a shoulder shrugging halt at this point rather than a more engaged debate what might be done to shift the structural paralysis of these institutions.

We accept that the politicians are bound by the polled and focus grouped demands of the electorate, by the election cycles and by their own short term self-interest. We accept that the media is driven by the highly competitive need to sell airtime and column inches and that this means feeding our morbid fascination with ever more grotesque analysis, imagery and opinion.

But it doesn’t need to be like this (does it?), and for the media, the crucial role it plays in creating population-wide reflexivity is critical in fostering the direction in which modern society will go.

So what journalists and commentators choose to focus on and the assumptions and knowledge that they hold has a critical role to play in shaping the future debate on several things and cumulatively this supports the shaping of the values and norms of our society.

It is the interaction between newly emerging values sets and a more positive discourse about the future that can enables us to begin the shift towards a more empathetic and sustainable society.

In this light, the success of the somewhat middle class hobby of ‚Transition Town Movements‘ is hardly surprising given that it offers possibly one only beacon of hope for a sustainable and socially rich future in the context of a media discourse that places its emphasise on resource price spikes and shortages, decreasing quality of life and ghost towns.

Therefore, for me, the questions are:

How does the media sector see its role in society (honestly), as a shaper or a reflector, and is there really a difference?

If it does take this responsibility seriously, what is the long-term collective contribution the sector can makes and what sorts of skills and collaborations would be required?

What would it take for journalism to be a profession of appreciation and care for what works rather than what’s broken?

Appreciation is not something we in the wests are naturally very good at, and of course we often learn by getting things wrong, by pushing against boundaries until we make a ‚faux pas‘.

Conversely, however, this does not mean that everything ‚is‘ wrong. These things we conceive as wrong are just phenomena that occur at the boundaries of otherwise well functioning systems.

Our knowledge and our destinies are intimately woven and the way we know and see the world impacts where we end up. We will evolve in the direction of the ‚things‘ that we most persistently and deeply engage with and the media has a huge role to play in this engagement.

If these ‚things‘ are based on focussing on problems and expecting the worst, this will have significant repercussions on how we deal with the challenges (and opportunities!) that lie ahead?

I don’t have an answer but your appreciative thoughts about the media and our collective attitude at this points are most welcome……


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Source by Ranjana Banerjee

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