Radio journalism, and the element of trust

Practicing radio journalism is not an easy job, even for professional journalists who work for newspapers, magazines and other forms of media
Radio journalism, and the element of trust
"It’s a common opinion that media, be it print or electronic, have been (and are being) used more as communication vehicles of misinformation campaigns than presenting content in its pure form."Mapixel [Creative Commons]

In the world of journalism, a practice of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information to the general public, there is decline in trust.

A lot of misinformation and fake news have become the order of the day as a breed of so-called journalists have been misusing the power of the Internet and social media by posting malicious and misleading information to grab attention.

During the course of this flood of misinformation, the factual content gets lost. Today, it’s hard for people to trust the news and other information they receive now and then. And the bad thing is that the medium of carrying these unreliable news reports and unverified information has lost the trust of people.

It’s a common opinion that media, be it print or electronic, have been (and are being) used more as communication vehicles of misinformation campaigns than presenting content in its pure form.

Even as people remain glued to private television channels, Intranet and other social networking sites for news and information updates, they take time to trust the veracity of the content. To be precise, the media is in a disgraceful situation for not enjoying the outright trust of its audience.

Actually the point of discussing the element of trust in journalism is the apt theme of the 2022 edition of World Radio Day- ‘Radio and Trust’ – at a time when fake news and misinformation campaigns are ruling the roost around the world. The theme itself vets that all is not well with the media when it comes to trust.

‘World Radio Day’ is celebrated every year on February 13, since 2011. This day is celebrated to allow people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences to raise their concerns and voice their opinions through the medium of radio.

This year, UNESCO has invited radio stations around the world to commemorate the 11th edition of the event, as well as more than a century of radio. Remarkably, trust in radio journalism, trust and accessibility and trust and viability of radio stations are sub themes of this year’s World Radio Day.

It’s worth mentioning that radio, one of the oldest, continues to remain the most popular medium reaching over 90 percent of the country’s population despite vast expansion of television channels and social media networks. People have always shown unflinching faith in the content aired on radio and the vast population of the country relies on it for the consumption of news and for entertainment purposes.

If we look at the journey of radio, one of the oldest mass communication mediums, its survival itself is a success story. When almost all traditional media either disappeared from the scene or became redundant in the amazing technology revolution, the medium of radio not only thrived, but expanded in use. It didn’t become a victim of modern technological onslaught, but embraced the technology to remain as an outstanding competitor in the field of mass communication.

Otherwise, with the advent of technology and the power of the Internet coupled with the thrill of moving pictures, it was confidently prophesied that radio as a broadcasting medium would be facing imminent death. Today, the fact is that radio has emerged as the ultimate survivor, adapting itself successfully to the tastes of the newer generation of listeners, making best use of newer technologies to connect cross sections for development without caring for circumstances.

It’s the only medium where the content is always fresh and original. During the COVID crisis, the radio broadcasters successfully established a deep connection with the listeners and helped the audience in lifting the spirits and diminishing the anxiety through a variety of programmes.

The most outstanding role of the Radio has been bringing a social change for betterment while acting as influencers through its programmes. In this era of digital age where there is a barrage of fake news, it is the radio broadcasters who have helped spread awareness and assisted listeners navigate their way through this maze of misinformation and paid news. In the words of a broadcaster, being a very personal and distanced form of communication, radio has now become a new ‘comfort companion’ for its listeners.

Precisely, it’s the Radio which has always kept its audience intact even in extreme crisis – be it social, political, economic or an unprecedented health emergency like COVID-19 pandemic. This voice medium has never let its audience down when it comes to firsthand information on issues confronting them and has proved a credible means of information and education through entertainment mode.

Meanwhile, the sub-theme trust in radio journalism’ has been aptly embedded to lay emphasis on fair journalism practices, which makes sense in the growing menace of fake news and misinformation campaigns. Journalism is an activity that is primarily associated with newspapers, magazines and television. Practicing radio journalism is not an easy job even for professional journalists who work for newspapers, magazines and other forms of media. Radio journalism requires high skills and the person should possess intensive investigative and literary abilities.

On radio, for instance, the drafting and delivery of news copy is not a simple matter. This act demands the ability of a radio journalist to handle facts, issues and ideas without visual distraction so that this job is most effectively performed.

Does this mean radio journalism is different from other types of journalism? Even though the basics of journalism are the same, the medium of radio demands practice of giving out the right, well-researched and verified information. In other words, radio journalism demands high-quality content without compromising facts.

Let me reproduce the statement of a radio journalist in the context of how it differs from other types of journalism. He said: “Just as print journalism is more than the front and back pages and includes reviews, in-depth analyses and comment, which also solicit the attention of the reader, so radio journalism is much more than ‘the news’. It is to be found in factual output of many kinds: in programming as much as in bulletins.

It is also expensive to produce, requiring more effort to source and to evidence, to illustrate and to communicate, than does the playing of pre-recorded music or the relaying of spontaneous conversation. The many forms in which radio journalism exists today could no longer be invented overnight.”

In the context of J&K state, radio has a very special role in the given decades-long conflict situation. Radio played a pivotal role in negating the propaganda. Today, there is an urgent need to restore the glory of radio (All India Radio) in J&K. Strategically, All India Radio, Srinagar has a very important role to play in the peace and prosperity of the region.

The current situation demands to encourage the broadcasting professionals running the local AIR stations and further empower them to deliver in line with the given priorities.

Focus on developmental programmes will definitely help to shape positive thinking of our society. Precisely, radio journalism in its true form will infuse a wave of confidence among the societies transversely in the region.

(The views are of the author & not the Institution he works for)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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