GROUND ZERO JOURNALISM
Daniel Pearl was an American journalist with The Wall Street Journal. He was kidnapped and later beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan. We get video images and reports from war zones across the globe, documenting human history as it unfolds in the most treacherous parts of world. Risking one’s life is only one part of the story, commitment to journalism by bringing the most objective stories to the world is both a noble and a praiseworthy task. World would have been bereft of this third eye, had such journalists not existed. How many of them lost their lives, faced penal action and got tortured by repressive regimes, have not found any mention as martyrs in their countries. They are icons of journalism. This genre of journalism is known as Ground Zero Journalism.
Ground Zero Journalism means objective and empirical reporting from where it happens and as it unfolds, stitching facts into facts, which creates its real story. The more time you spend there, better you understand the situation and nuances of it. You will gain immense insights into the dynamic nature of the issue and what needs to covered when and what are the main ingredients of the emerging story and accordingly plan you coverage and time. What vested interest can you have as a foreign journalist covering the Iraq story or an Indian journalist covering 9/11 or journalists in Kosovo and Sudan during these countries tryst with destiny.
The lesser mortals get into the role of the fourth pillar of democracy, they took upon themselves the noble ideals of being the custodians of democracy, the voice of the poor and the downtrodden. They bring the exalted values of investigative journalism, proactive anti-establishment and a watchdog role, which any democracy can be proud of. Not a very difficult role in normal peacetime situation and even during protests and agitations. All this can happen on a regular consistent basis if you are Ground Zero Journalist. Even the Panama and the Paradise Papers required a Ground Zero Journalism of different kind. In a similar vein and much more risky was the exemplary role of Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in the Edward Snowden leaks.
The Ground Zero Journalism has given way to they call today today, the craft of the video fuelling TV journalism. Stories can be created on the fly. The narrative can be anything on a borrowed video, even a tweet can do. Representational pics are fine. Few journalists in soft areas of metros can deliver everything. The cry of Ground Zero does not make sense to these rabble rouser journalists. Journalism with a cause has become journalism for your cause. Has reporting facts become so difficult? Journalists not being allowed to protest site and reporting being done for months together without hitting Ground Zero are two sides of the same vitiated atmosphere. It’s the rise of social media which is creating a new battery of journalists with barely any resources yet committed to journalism, who are becoming the brand ambassadors of New Age Journalism.
JOURNALISM WITHOUT BEING ROOTED IN THE GROUND, CAN HANG ONLY IN MID-AIR.