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Journalism must go beyond information

Tejinder Singh Sodhi’s middle “Only numbers?” (July 23) has addressed an ethical question. Having been a journalist for nearly two decades and now as a university teacher of journalism, I feel concerned to say that there is need to re-look into the nature of work a journalist (read reporter) is supposed to do traditionally, not what is expected of him ideally.

With the socio-cultural development and modernisation of society, the age-old definition of news and its determinants calls for some changes. There have been, however, some negative or detrimental changes about the elements of news, brought about by some commercial mass media concerns wrapping up non-news items as news. Besides the news is being sensationalised for financial gains and cheap popularity.

The positive side of the change in perception of what ought to be considered news in the larger social interest of today’s world calls for investigation and interpretative journalism of high standards. True, the reporter as of today has been taught not to comment over the incident he is reporting. He is “restricted to numbers” of the dead or the injured in a particular event, lest his story might be faulted for editorialising.

Understandably, it is practically impossible for someone working for a daily to dig out all necessary details or work out reasons or ‘why or how’ elements of news story instantly. But one can surely do a good investigation into what has been reported earlier within a time-bound period.

Often, most of the hottest stories of times have resulted out of the investigations or follow-ups of seemingly insignificant events reported in dailies earlier. The concern of journalism, whether in peace or conflict situations, ought not to be about information alone.

It should be more about investigation and instruction. Let us not only talk of how many died or injured in any event. We must also be concerned about the reasons of unnatural deaths, their avoidance and safety aspects.

ANIL KAPOOR, Chandigarh


The middle was interesting. The author has raised a pertinent point. Journalists work in such a conflicting zone where their duty includes visiting the houses of injured persons or meeting the kin of the deceased. Their function is  only to ascertain the number  of the injured or deceased.

They are only anxious to see the story appear on the first page of the paper which they are attached to as the writer appropriately states. But can they forget the agony of others and the fact that the one who died was a human being? Journalists’ duty is indeed rather arduous.

RIKHI DAS THAKUR, Palbhu, Hamirpur

Storage problems

Despite huge wastage of food  grains year after year, no concrete measures are taken (editorial, “Grains of wrath”, July 30).  Such is the sloth and insensitivity  of the authorities that they  allow the food grains to rot.

This is disgraceful and shameful in a country where millions of people do not get two square meals a day. Many even die of starvation.

In our religious scriptures food is regarded as ann devta and it is a sacrilege to let grains rot. The state government and the Centre, which have remained mute spectators to this neglect are equally responsible and answerable.

The state government must come out of its slumber and provide proper storage facilities to food grains. It is high time the representatives of the people in the government and in the Opposition find effective means of stopping the rot.



The Food Corporation of India, a centrally managed food procuring and distribution agency, built its own godowns long time back and did not care to increase storage capacity in the country, especially in Punjab and Haryana.

Its dependence upon private parties to create additional storage capacity is intransigent as it should itself make sufficient arrangements before the onset of the marketing season not only in Punjab, but in other consumer states also so that there is a fair movement of stocks to avoid the pile-up in the food producing states.

There are depots of the FCI in the entire country. Let Punjab lead the country in increasing production and productivity.


Curb ragging

The editorial “Ragging menace”(July 30) appositely observed that despite efforts for consciousness among the people concerned against the practice of ragging, it still continues to claim innocent lives of students in educational institutions. Various steps, including stern directives by the Supreme Court, have been undertaken to curb it. A help line to register cases against ragging too has been in place but the menace of ragging has not been curbed.

This proves that stern action beyond a cosmetic exercise is required. There is a need to evolve a concerted strategy at the university/college level to do away with this practice. The involvement of parents of students too should be made essential if this menace is to be stopped. All universities and educational institutions should follow the example of Panjab University, Chandigarh, and criminal cases should be registered against those who indulge in ragging. Besides, efforts should also be made at a psychological level inspiring the students to eschew this practice.


Praiseworthy gesture

The commendable and unprecedented gesture of former cricket captain Kapil Dev in getting the last remains of the migrant Pooran Singh of a village in Jalandhar district 63 years after his demise in Australia speaks of an extraordinary humane persona behind the brave and rugged exterior of the cricket icon (news report, July 28).

It is said that a Hindu going to a temple is a religious act but his visiting a mosque is a secular one. Kapil Dev has set a unique example in secularism and humanitarianism by coming forward to fulfil the last wish of an adventurous Sikh who wanted his ashes immersed in the holy Ganges in the land of his birth. Like so many hapless migrants, who mingle in dust in foreign lands sometimes “unwept and unsung”, Pooran Singh too was unlucky.

We need more Kapil Devs in this country not only for cricket but also for sustaining abiding human values which are under serious threat under the negative influence of parochial elements and narrow-minded self-seekers.

G S AUJLA, former DGP, Chandigarh



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