DailyPost 2115

The fourth estate, press earlier and now the whole of media, are the sentinel of democracy. They embody an all-encompassing role, way beyond the opposition, in diversity and finesse, and being a professional body, can take the masters of democracy to task. Investigative journalism is the epitome of this profession. Persistence, grit and courage brings the truth to light, sometimes the ones which could not have seen the light of the day. For the novices Pegasus Project, the report of which was released last July, can be termed as one such example of this genre of journalism.

While such painstaking pieces of investigation happen once in a while, taking a known story to its logical journalistic end and through it, its logical conclusion, is another enviable piece of journalism. In the normal rigmarole of daily journalism, the professional who gives the cutting edge to both the profession and also to democracy is the editor. He is what freedom of press is all about or the other way round, he is the embodiment of press freedom and its independence in one outstanding professional. Few names would explain it all; G. Mulgaonkar, B.G. Verghese, Arun Shourie, N. Ram, Chitra Subramaniam, Awhini Sarin…

They have defined what editing is all about. It is the surgical precision with the news and environment, delivered to the readers, in the most objective and empirical manner, while lashing out to persons and institutions who deserve it. The magazines and newspapers are known by the brand they create. From the design, format, content, delivery, expression, headlines, and top it all the intellectual and professional editorial. While being in the democratic muck, they have the acumen to stand above it, and provide the north star, the democratic world needs. Things run into rough weather for these luminaires quite a few times.

Today their video avatar, the anchors have lost the art of surgical precision. Marketing and advertisements seem to have taken the scalp off the newspaper business. Flowing with the tide, seems to be becoming the norm and rather than swimming against it. Print and electronic media are run by business houses. Solo media businesses might be few and far between. Media arm cannot put the whole business into jeopardy. Editorial freedom then most of the times, can turn out to be a pipedream, trying to project, while it is not. A recent book Editor Missing bares it all. Democratic ecosystems at times throw up media of its choice. It’s time for the editors to put their acts in place. Holding on the ground can be editor’s first attribute.

Sanjay Sahay

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