Journalism in the Post-Truth Era
George Orwell once rightly said that "Thefurther a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those who speakit." American writer and humorist Mark Twain said that "A lie can travelhalfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." It showsthat a lie has vast market and adequate consumers, whereas, it is vice-versa inthe case of a truth. Simultaneously, Journalism in the post-truth era hasbecome profitable as well as questionable profession. It is a universalprofession and has a very wide reach; therefore, it needs to be questioned. Inthe post-truth era it is really hard to know that what is being told /shown tous is actually authentic or not. A floodof information is being provided to us round the clock that create complexityfor readers/viewers in identifying which news is authentic and reliable. In theprofit-driven journalism, it is also not easy for the journalists to choosewhich news should be reported and which should not be. Most of the times, theytry to cover the news stories which 'majority' endorses as well as like toread/watch or that which suits the agenda of ruling dispensation. Currently,there is an apparent dividing line between the journalists in India; firstcategory consists of those journalists who have become 'unofficialspokesperson' of the ruling party and second category consists of thosejournalists who speak truth to the power. Moreover, second one is frequentlyquestioning the policies and agendas of the governments. These types ofjournalists are abused, intimidated and threatened day in and day out by thosewho dislike them. They are easily labeled as 'Urban Naxals' or 'Congress's spokespersons'and what not. Now, the ruling dispensation has started a new trend to'witch-hunt' those journalists who are telling/showing those news stories whichother journalists don't dare to show or tell.
Unarguably, the purpose of Journalism isnot to cover those news stories which will suit the agenda of ruling partiesrather it purpose is to speak out the 'uncomfortable truth' which otherwise noone wants to listen. It should be voice of the voiceless and spokesperson ofmarginalized sections of any society. Unfortunately, journalism in thepost-truth era has deviated from its basic purpose. Overtly or covertly, it isadversely affecting the 'public psyche'. Nowadays, journalists are actuallyworking according to the propaganda which is often attributed to Nazi JosephGoebbels' idea of the 'illusion of truth'. it is based on this law 'repeat alie often enough and it becomes the truth'. Consequently, this all is producing'deaf lambs' and 'controlled citizens' rather than 'argumentative citizens'. Thisall, doesn't stop here, actually, journalism in the post-truth era is creating'paranoia' both at individual and societal level. Scapegoating, anxiety,violence, and polarization of the people are the adverse consequences ofparanoia which is the by-product of contemporary journalism. In the post-truthera, it is the responsibility of reader/ viewer to cross check the facts andnews which are presented to them. It is our responsibility, only ours, toeducate and to inform ourselves because it is in the interest of ruling classto keep us ignorant and subservient. Moreover, reader/viewer should not merely gulp the ready-made ideas andinformation rather they should research what is being shown or told.
Zulafqar Ahmed is Doctorate Fellow (PhD) at the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University.