By Farooq Wani
It is over 10 years when Brighter Kashmir was launched with the aim of providing readers facts based on truth as well as unbiased analyses and observations on a variety of issues so as to enhance reader awareness. This newspaper was launched when Kashmir Valley was in the throes of such massive unrest that even publication of newspapers had been suspended.
So I decided to launch Brighter Kashmir in order to fill the existing information void.When I broached this idea, the response of my friends and well-wishers was near unanimous- while they wholeheartedly appreciated the spirit behind my initiative, they also cautioned me that under the prevailing conditions, it wasn’t the right time to launch a newspaper.
So, when I discussed this issue with my staff and they reposed full faith in me, we together took a plunge into the vast ocean of media and thus, on 10 September 2010, Brighter Kashmir was born. Needless to say, publishing a newspaper was indeed an uphill task, especially since I had no formal training or experience in this field.Like any other fledgling newspaper, Brighter Kashmir also faced a large number of challenges.
There was a severe paucity of funds as advertisers weren’t willing to place advertisements in a paper that had just been launched and since readers weren’t aware of the quality of Brighter Kashmir’s contents, readership too was quite low. However, we decided not to quit and even though all we could afford was to publish just a four-page black-and-white publication, we ensured that these four pages were packed with value news and views.
Our adherence to qualities of accurate reporting as well as holistically discussing controversial issues without any prejudice helped in giving Brighter Kashmir a unique image and it rapidly started gaining popularity.
From the original four-page black-and-white publication, Brighter Kashmir soon became a color newspaper with four more additional pages and currently it’s a 12-page publication. Its popularity has also grown by leaps and bounds and today Brighter Kashmir enjoys a significant and continuously increasing readership base.
Many think that with the internet providing easy access to happenings all over the globe, media persons live a glamorous and easy life. While this may be somewhat true in cases where media persons make professional compromises, but certainly not for those who are unyielding when it comes to upholding the ethics of journalism.
This problem becomes even more acute in conflict zones as no matter how accurate and unbiased a news report may be, it’s bound to antagonise one of the parties to the ongoing conflict.
Accordingly, those who are not willing to compromise on ethics of journalism have to walk the tightrope and work in an environment fraught with dangers of bodily harm. The harsh truth is that vulnerability is one of the main professional hazards that journalists face every day and since the nature of their job requires them to move around and visit unknown places at odd hours, effective security cannot be ensured.
The high vulnerability of media persons is quite evident from the many killings of journalists reporting from conflict zones across the world.Another misnomer amongst most people is that the media can do what it pleases, write whatever it wishes to and above all, is answerable to no one.
The reality is that like any other profession, journalism too has its own set of rules with a very strong emphasis on ethical propriety. Thus, far from being ‘free-birds,’ journalists are required to ensure legal, ethical and moral correctness of their reports. They also need to have convincing justification with facts to counter those may feel antagonised by what they write.
However, since providing accurate and timely news to the public is a solemn social responsibility, journalism is rightly considered a sacred profession. Journalists also have responsibility to dispel untruth, half-truth and motivated reporting as the same can have serious repercussions and cause irreparable damage.
The journalist’s aim is to get first-hand information from the ‘horse’s mouth’ and seek answers to questions that the people need to know. And perhaps that’s why the old saying of ‘a man being known by the company he keeps’, doesn’t hold good for media persons! They are everybody’s associates but nobody’s friends and they stand only for the truth and what justifies as truth.
Even though I came across a lot of impediments in the field of journalism and faced many hardships, I was lucky that God gave me the strength to carry-on and not either surrender or make any compromise that would shame the honorable profession of journalism.
I’m also very lucky to have a team that is determined to uphold ethics of journalism and if Brighter Kashmir enjoys a reputation for objective reporting, then the credit goes to my dedicated colleagues who work tirelessly to ensure that Brighter Kashmir lives up to the faith and expectations that our national and international readers have reposed in us.
Lastly, for a journalist to be able to fulfill his professional obligations requires him to have a cordial working relationship with all newsmakers, whether it be heroes or villains and this is something that needs to be understood by all so as to avoid any misconceptions. It’s the pursuit of accurate and comprehensive reporting that makes it imperative for a journalist to engage with personalities across the entire spectrum of political, ideological and religious beliefs, and as such any such meeting should be viewed in its entirety and not misinterpreted as an indicator of the concerned journo’s personal leaning or belief.
Tailpiece: My work in the field of media has been recognized by the JK UT Govt and Central Govt and I have been conferred with ‘Out Standing Media Person Award’ on 26 January for the year 2020′. I am humbled by this honour but rather than making me complacent by resting on laurels, this award will continue reminding me that I must continue focusing on quality journalism. It will also inspire me in ensuring that the public is not only kept well informed of local, national and international events, but is also presented with opinions and views that would help them in developing a more positive and constructive outlook.