Think about the times you get all the news worldwide on huge sheets of what you call a newspaper. Or about the times you start a good morning with a sip of coffee and a written world on each side of pages? Who might have done such a convenient work of providing us with the entire globe in a four-cornered room? Who might have gone to the other side of the world, bringing us an update amidst risks that loom around? Or who might have run and recorded altogether to shed light on the actual truth?

Media and Journalism are answers to all the questions mentioned above. This domain has brought us the essence of living together in a world. Imagine your friend asking you about the happenings in your native place while you are staying away? You could instantly look it up in a newspaper. Or, in today’s fast-moving world, search it on social media and know about your place without you being present over there. Media coupled with Journalism has opened the doors for knowledge, occupation, writers, readers, and those keen to know the secrets this world hides. We see journalists answering our every question on the TV, updating us with the current happenings, warning us of the impending crisis and guiding us to shape our opinions in the light of righteousness. 

On May 3, we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, a day in honour of those who put their lives at stake in critical situations and raise voice on behalf of an entire population. The day has its roots in adopting the prominent Windhoek Declaration for the Development of Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press. After 30 years of this historic moment, the signing of this declaration still holds strong relevance in our societies, our nations. We look up at the mainstream media to know all the sunny, grey and rainy patterns of this world, yet at times we showcase them the cruellest of all the hostilities. Media has been lynched by a mob at protests, subjected to coercive actions by the government and ruptured by an internal race of competitions and corruption. Journalists have constantly met with pessimistic responses for exercising their Fundamental Right, Freedom of Speech and Expression. The range of threats come in numbers; it starts from a mere phone call to a kidnap and ends with a blood pool on an isolated street. Such threats are not just for articles; they have already manifested in relevant instances. 

As reported by The Guardian, 50 journalists have been arrested for raising their voices against the government, failing to combat the current pandemic surge. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath had asked the police for strict actions against those trying to ‘defame’ the state by spreading false news. Journalist Siddique Kapan had met with ill-treatment after being sabotaged for reporting on the Hathras gangrape case in October. Incidents like this stir up the atmosphere and dig out loopholes, asking about the treatment mated out to the media. To raise awareness on such cases and ask for better treatment, the World Press Freedom Day shows solidarity to all the journalists and encourages their fearless spirit. Like every year, this day has the theme as ‘Information as a Public Good’. The theme reinforces the values of verified news and sends them out to individuals. The day urges every sector associated with the media to disseminate reliable information and tackle the sources that spread rumours in the name of news. It also stands against atrocities against the media and asks for an amiable response to what it works for. The world has seen many journalists emerging from ambivalent sides of the world. Here are five influential journalists who leave behind a resonating impact in society:

Ravish Kumar

A name is synonymous with fearless journalism in Indian society. Ravish Kumar has become one of the most famous journalists in the country. But his fame is not due to his powerful shouting or voodoo drama. Rather he is popular due to his outspoken nature of debunking any false facts that come his way. He has been awarded many awards recognizing his contribution to journalism, the most prestigious of which is the Ramon Magsaysay Award he won in 2019.

Ravish Kumar runs the flagship shows on NDTV, and his shows are characterized as debunkers of all the false claims made by the people in power. He is also known for bringing the government to justice and asking tough questions. His voice is very much the nation’s voice as he asks the questions that are present in the commoner’s mind. He has also earned himself a place in the 100 most influential Indian by India Today.

Barkha Dutt

A fearless woman, Barkha Dutt is one of the few journalists in the Indian media world to earn a Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award. She is renowned for her coverage of the Kargil War in 1999, going live straight from the frontlines. Dutt is a woman of many accolades and has also been the reference for many journalists depicted in popular movies like Singham and Lakshay.

Barkha Dutt is an outspoken and passionate journalist. Her shows are top-rated among the masses because they display the issues that affect the everyday person. She constantly criticizes governments with utmost professionalism devoid of any bias. The Association for International Broadcasting awarded Dutt the title of “TV Personality of the year”, describing her as: “a reporter of considerable stretch and depth, still passionate and fearless in bringing the issues closer to her viewers.”.

Faye D’Souza

The modern journalist Faye D’Souza is known for her blistering news coverage that mainstream media is shy to show. The former chief editor of Mirror Now, introduced by Times Network, Faye D’Souza, has been presenting news aimed at the minds of the modern generation. Recently she teamed up with the online platform, FireWork, to produce short videos about current news.

Her flaming personality has achieved much popularity, and her handling of issues like corruption, political opportunism, and even the herculean increases in prices have received much praise. Her Instagram page is famous for her news series, “News That Should Be Headlines”, which has amassed more than one million followers.

Walter Cronkite

“The most trusted man in America”. Walter Cronkite is known for his phenomenal reporting and his catchphrase “And that’s the way it is” at the end of each bulletin. Watler Cronkite has covered many famous incidents like the Nuremberg trials in Germany during World War II for the United Press. Later on, he joined CBS and covered even more incidents that shaped the destiny of America.

He had personally covered the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the battles over civil rights, the Vietnam War, the Apollo moon landings, the death of Beatles musician John Lennon and the Watergate scandal. He is remembered as a pioneer in Broadcast media and has won numerous accolades. His autobiography, A Reporter’s Life, was a bestseller around the world.

Veronica Guerin

Duty before oneself is the message that Veronica Guerin’s life immortalizes. Many journalists regard themselves as fearless in their reporting, but Veronica was the embodiment of bravery. This fearless Irish journalist is renowned for exposing drug lords in Dublin in her home country. She had received many death threats for her work, but that did nothing to stop her.

She even got shot in her leg, but that would be a futile attempt to hamper her from doing her job as a journalist. In 1996, at the young age of 36, she was murdered by drug barons that were the length that those filthy criminals had to go to stop her. For her tremendous courage, Veronica Guerin was posthumously included in the International Press Institute’s 50 World Press Freedom Heroes list.

We have been bestowed with some of the best and fearless personalities under the shade of the Media. Our responsibility is to verify ourselves before accusing, lynching, and attacking the journalists, who work tirelessly to bring out the truth amidst the chaos of fallacies. If we had no media, no press, no journalists, we might have remained disconnected and, like the olden days, sent out a bird with our message, hoping that it reaches our loved ones in possible ways. Journalists go through tremendous lengths to get you the news that you deserve. They do not worry about their lives and only care about their passion for delivering trustworthy journalism. While many came out fearlessly, some have succumbed to social factors and some lost lives while doing their work. With this day, we not only celebrate the colors of true media and journalism, but we also remember those who ran and are constantly running on bricked pavements and broken nations to reveal the places we have succeeded and the holes that remain to be filled with success. Next time when you read a journalist’s work, be grateful; you have known the unknown world. 

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  2. I strongly feel that while elected representatives have failed us, so have too much of the mainstream news-media.

    Like so many other people, I have grown weary of Facebook specifically and much of general social media. The physical (and often identity) disconnect, through which the ugliest of comments can be and often are made without consequence for the aggressor, is largely at the heart of the matter. What I find indispensable about social media in general, however, is that it has enabled far greater information freedom (for example, on corporate environmental degradation and destruction) than that allowed by what had been a rigidly gatekept news and information virtual monopoly held by the pre-2000 electronic and print mainstream news-media.

    If not for the widely accessible Facebook, I seriously doubt that Greta Thunberg’s pre-pandemic formidable climate change movement, for example, would’ve been able to regularly form on such a congruently colossal scale. While I don’t know his opinion of social media, in an interview with the online National Observer (posted Feb.12, 2019) Noam Chomsky noted that while there are stories published about man-made global warming, “It’s as if … there’s a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying ‘look, this is a catastrophe,’ but then the regular [non-environmental pro-fossil fuel] coverage simply disregards it.”

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