Seasoned journalist Vijay Bhaskar has come up with a book on the history of journalism in Bihar
Exploring the rich history of press establishments in Bihar and the changing face of journalism in the State, veteran journalist Vijay Bhaskar has written a book, “Bihar Mein Patrakarita Ka Itihaas”.
“I have been teaching journalism at the Ranchi University and IGNOU and the books prescribed in the syllabus trace the history of Indian journalism to Hicky’s ‘Bengal Gazette’, but they don’t mention Sachidanand Sinha’s contributions and his use of the press establishments during his movement. There was no history as such of journalism in Bihar for students of Bihar and Jharkhand who wish to know about the forefathers of journalism in Bihar,” says Bhaskar.
Elaborating on the rapid commercialisation and changing nature of journalism after the JP movement, Bhaskar says, “There has been tremendous change in journalism after the movement. Apart from (responsibilities) to inform, to educate and to entertain, to make money was also added to journalism. There are some professions like that of a doctor or a teacher, which are not essentially meant for minting money. Journalism is also one of them. These professions carry a social responsibility. If you want to mint money, join a petroleum company. One cannot run a petrol pump while being an editor. It is okay to get a good package, but a journalist should remain true to the code of ethics.”
Commenting on the phenomenon of paid news and how it has affected the dynamics of media establishments, Bhaskar reflects, “I have included a list mentioning how much money different newspapers are being paid by the governments of Bihar and Jharkhand in the form of advertisements. Now, nobody is going to compromise with that payment, so the media in Bihar is mainly speaking the voice of the government. Companies which are business oriented pitch profit as their prime motive, and the yearning for money has completely eroded the profession.”
Shedding light on reasons why a majority of news stories about atrocities committed by musclemen in the badlands of Bihar don’t make it to the news, Bhaskar says, “When I was working with the Hindustan, we had a force of stringers (freelance reporters) spread across the State. These stringers are not paid well. So, they generate a local equation there and are guided by it. In the present scenario, there are so many stories which the stringers want to send but the head offices prevent them because they don’t want to face any sort of discomfort either from the henchmen or from the State. They are in a denial mode, avoiding confrontation.”
Explaining why the Naxal movement was overlooked by the mainstream media, Bhaskar reveals from another page of his memories. “When I was Editor in Chief of Kashish News, Superintendent of Police of Kathiar, sent a letter to me stating that one of my reporters was a Naxalite. So it is very difficult to deal with Naxal problem on a daily basis from Patna or Ranchi.”
Bhaskar traced the research and content collection to his study on the history of Searchlight newspaper and believes that there is ample content available on journalism in the two States. He has collected data from the JP Jaiswal Institute of Patna, the Patna archives, the Sinha Library and the Gazettal records of Bihar maintained during British India.