US JOURNALISTS SET RULES ON ACCESS TO TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION, AIRTIME FOR NEXT FOUR YEARS

The article originally appeared on India Today.

US President-elect Donald Trump has been livid over many issues and people and the US media is one of his main targets. He has slammed media left, right and centre, going as far as to mock a disabled journalist and threaten to keep media outfits away from the White House.

Now, just two days before his inaugural, the US Press Corp has come out with a strongly worded open letter, published in the Columbia Journalism Review of Columbia University, to set things in a perspective for the next four years clearly spelling out that who will be the boss saying while “Trump has every right to decide his ground rules for engaging with the press, they have some, too. It is, after all, their airtime and column inches that Trump is seeking to influence.”

The open letter by a body representing US journalists, asserts, “We, not you, decide how best to serve our readers, listeners, and viewers. So think of what follows as a backgrounder on what to expect from us over the next four years”.

The letter categorically rebuts Donald Trump’s regular slanderous assualts and threats against media. Addressing Trump it says, “You’ve banned news organizations from covering you. You’ve taken to Twitter to taunt and threaten individual reporters and encouraged your supporters to do the same. You’ve advocated for looser libel laws and threatened numerous lawsuits of your own, none of which has materialised. You’ve avoided the press when you could and flouted the norms of pool reporting and regular press conferences. You’ve ridiculed a reporter who wrote something you didn’t like because he has a disability”.

The journalists body, through its open letter, sets rules on access to Trump’s administration, off the record statements, airtime, objectivity and cultivating and embedding news sources in the government for the next four years or in best case scenario, for the next eight years, if Donald Trump gets the second term.

Journalists say that Trump may deny them access but it will be a challenge that they will relish. The letter clears it out that ‘access is preferable, but not critical’. They say ‘attending background briefings or off-the-record social events’ will be their sole discretion and they deserve the right to give or deny airtime to Trump’s spokespersons.

They lay out terms for the quality of coverage that will be driven by objective truth. Newsworthiness is must, but not without facts. And they warn Trump they will have upper hand in covering how his policies are carried out, even if he seeks to control information.

US journalists recognize where they have failed and credit Trump to highlight it and emphasize the need to ‘regain trust’ and say that “they’ll do it through accurate, fearless reporting, by acknowledging their errors and abiding by the most stringent ethical standards they set for themselves”.

But they blame Trump of trying to create a division in the journalistic fraternity and even trying to cause family fights. The letter says those days are over now as ‘the challenge of covering Trump requires that journalists cooperate and help one another whenever possible’. The letter reiterates on its role in making the US a great Republic and expresses gratitude that “forced them to rethink the most fundamental questions about who they are and what they are here for”.

©SantoshChaubey

DIWALI, MODI, GADKARI’S HELMET, MAHARASHTRA, BLACK MONEY AND MANY MORE. BUT THE FARM SUICIDE?

Diwali celebrations were in the air and are still continuing in many parts of the country. It made for news headlines and many shows. Understandable.

Narendra Modi was in Jammu & Kashmir on the Diwali day to spend time with the flood victims. He was there to show solidarity with the Indian soldiers in Siachen and the flood victims in J&K. He held high level meetings and announced fund from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. It contributed to the second largest chunk of editorial planning on the Diwali day. Understandable.

The Maharashtra political scene was not clear on two fronts after BJP emerged as the largest party in the state but 23 short of majority mark of 245 in the Maharashtra assembly. One, who would be the Maharashtra chief minister from BJP. Two, what price BJP would extract from Shiv Sena to oblige the Thackeray party as the ‘junior partner’ in the alliance. The newsmaking treadmill has continued unabated since then. Understandable.

Black money issue has been an evergreen fodder and was making for news headlines midst the reports that the government was about to disclose names in the court. Though a damp squib so far based on today’s developments, the issue has infinitely immense potential to oil the newsmaking machinery. Understandable.

A Shahrukh Khan starrer was to be released and it did roaring business in the opening weekend and made for loads of entertainment based content in media programming. Understandable.

Nitin Gadkari’s helmetless riding was caught on camera and transport minister of India along with his scooter became the talking point on social media and in mainstream media. Made for good visual story with scope for ‘sorts’ of debates on ‘moral and ethical’ issues over it. Understandable.

Communal clashes broke up in a part of Delhi and it threatened peace and harmony if not contained. A balanced newsmaking approach to it was required. Understandable.

All these and many other developments were adding to the foliage that makes for the fodder of the mainstream news media content. And the supply has been copious. And the supply to product conversion ratio has been in abundance making their outreach clearly visible.

On the Diwali day, news-reports came that said six farmers in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra had committed suicide within 24 hours. Erratic monsoon and the resultant agrarian loss forced them to take the extreme step. And mind you, these must not be seen as mere numbers. The region, like many other parts of India, has been facing agrarian crisis and farm suicides. According to the reports, the Vidarbha region has seen over 11000 farm suicides since 2001 and the figure this year so has reached to over 900. Yet, it did not make for the news headlines the way above-mentioned issues/developments were picked up.

And this has been like this. The question mark that it puts has been there for quite long. This time also, the trend continued.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KEEP THE SANCTITY UP OF THE ‘RESEARCH’ PLEASE

We see regular news reports quoting some (or some sort of) research study. The subject of these research studies vary from terrorism to lifestyle, from life threatening diseases to spiritual preferences, from views on life to discourses on death. And are a good source to populate the spaces in newspapers, magazines and web portals. Yes, not all of them are fillers. But yes, almost of them are fillers.

Dig a little about further details, like for the research parameters – the area covered under the study, the sample size, other related studies, the proportion of primary and secondary research work, the data collection tools used, and the final analysis and we come across lazily done works with no regard for even the basic research techniques.

And most of these studies, with no defined sampling techniques and a very limited exposure to the test subjects and the subject itself, cannot be generalized at all. Yet, they make for the news reports, across the continents. So, a localized research study done over 30 people in the US makes for generalized news reports on some lifestyle effect on body in India or Pakistan or a similarly done study in Britain makes headway into Nigeria or Turkey.

The sources of information behind such news reports make for interesting observations the way they are dug into and collected. A research study done over a month with very limited geographical outreach and focus suddenly comes out with ‘eureka sort’ of findings that are localized and interpreted to unravel some nagging problem in a far away corner of the world.

The methodologies of such studies are either not designed or are designed locally. Most of the time the final outcome is based on some flimsily done analysis. The researchers, they don’t care to understand the historical and the prevailing context to get into the basic parameters of a study. Most of the time they ‘study’ through the documents, sitting in a comfortable armchair, employing their skills on their secondary source of information, which are seldom verified for the context or use-worthiness for the subject.

Such research studies are interesting stuff the way they are carried out, compromising on the very ethics of a research work that makes it an enduring legacy of an academic work to be used for a generalized purpose.

And such research studies are carried out in every stream, on every possible subject, in the manner of roundtable negotiations, with no concern for rechecking and reconfirming the facts and going out in the field to cross-verify the information contained in the secondary sources.

Most of such studies are done in historical and contextual isolations and the researchers never bother to know and understand the context of the subject matter at hand. They flimsily analyse and process the information based on their own cultural contexts and ethos looking at the facts from the spectacle of their own societies.

And for many media carriers, most of them do not care before printing such stuff, such observations which are contextually misplaced.

These works are mostly products of half-baked intellects where the creators are not aware of the context of the subject or they don’t do the proper pre-research study work, the contextual interpretation of ‘how, what and why’ of the subject under study or the work under development.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/