Journalism, which is often characterised by “superficiality and dilettantism,” will benefit greatly from the contributions of scholars covering serious issues such as the agrarian crisis in India, according to N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons, which publishes The Hindu.
Delivering a lecture on ‘News Media and Agrarian Issues’ at the Tenth Anniversary Conference of the Foundation for Agrarian Studies (FAS) Mr. Ram urged scholars and specialists to conduct workshops for training journalists in the methodological rigours of this complex subject. “You will find enough young journalists willing to learn.”
“The garden variety of journalism requires most of us to function in a world of superficiality,” he said. The demands of the profession, requiring journalists to “cover all kinds of subjects,” contributed to an environment in which journalists had to do their job with very little preparation. Journalists must recognise that “this is a given in journalism” and must make a conscious effort to overcome this by acquiring the methodological skills that are necessary to cover issues such as deprivation or agrarian distress, he said.
Mr. Ram urged scholars to help “raise the ethical bar in journalism and constantly demand this from journalists.” “There is very little organised effort to critique journalism, to look at it from the outside and to call journalists, newspapers and television news channels to account.” He urged scholars to “unleash in a somewhat uninhibited way criticism of the incompetencies and superficiality that goes in the name of journalism, in print, TV, radio and the digital platforms.”
Referring to the potential of the social media, Mr. Ram said: “There is a great deal of romanticisation of what the social media can contribute on topics related to specialised fields such as agrarian studies.”
Mr. Ram urged the FAS to research the media’s coverage of some particular issue that came under its ambit of work. He urged scholars to analyse “a reasonable sample” of newspapers for their coverage of migration, real wages, and access to education and health care.
The conference is being attended by more than 125 delegates from across the world.