The National Press Day celebration last Friday was one of the best we’ve had in years. The presence of so many journalists from different parts of the state at the event was an expression of the solidarity that binds us in our pursuit of the truths and the freedom of speech. It was a day when, although the winter sun was concealed by the clouds, the general sense of gloom that pervades our professional lives was lifted, and the air was filled with good cheer and vague expectations. The future, we reminded ourselves, is full of promises.
And since it is the season to be jolly, I find myself possessed by the urge to consider it all as a man would in a situation which requires him to write something and he cannot think of anything other than himself to write about. It’s a terrible affliction of the ego, but who says journalists are without it? In any case, it has been done before, and by people with far more to gain than I do.
With the number of years I have clocked in journalism, I am now what they call a ‘senior scribe’; but I assure you, that’s an inaccurate designation, because, for all practical purposes, I remain a student. I have learned from those who came before me, and I am learning from those who have come after me – if not in terms of the craft of journalism, certainly in terms of new methods of operating as a journalist.
So the caravan ambles on – all us journalists, the good, the bad and the weird, marching towards a horizon we will never reach because as long as truth exists, we must keep walking on its path, and when we fall, all we can do is pass on the baton to those who wait to take our place.
And speaking of truth, while some would insist that print journalism in Arunachal is still in a ‘nascent stage’, I beg to disagree. We are thirty years old, and that doesn’t really make us a spring chicken anymore – especially when we look back and realize that the notice board era of the late ’80s is nothing more than a distant memory now. Time was when journalism used to be dull, grey, predictable and uninteresting, but we have witnessed waves of changes over the years, and today, with the coming of the electronic media and the social media, news is disseminated at such a pace that it would be foolish for the print media not to grow up and keep up. In the larger scheme of things, however, although there may be differences in opinion within the journalist community itself, comprising both the print and the electronic media, we shouldn’t forget that we are a family by default and must stand together, come rain or shine or platitude such as this.
It bears mentioning here that it is a relief to see young men and women taking up journalism and doing their job without fear. It gives one hope, not to mention a small dose of envy. Back in the day, any notion I had of changing the world (as it were) had gone out of the window on the very first week of my career as a journalist, when a group of union boys turned up at the office I was employed at and tutored me on what shape to give their press release and on what page their news should go. These days one can draw strength from one’s fellows and afford to be somewhat tactless and forthcoming when expressing one’s opinions through columns.
Having said that, it occurs to me that this is slowly turning out to be more a speech than an article; therefore I shall bring it to a close now – but not without a little reminder to my fellow scribes that, however tough our beat may be, whatever the adversities we face, thank god we’re not in Kashmir. Or UP. That would be even worse.