The primary purpose of journalism is to tell the truth. Truth is a subjective noun and therefore journalists would love to narrate their versions of truth and readers will stick to the version they consider closest to their heart. To some journalists, truth may be objective; a monolithic entity and they would go to any length and breadth to hammer their version. They will employ means to peddle and thrust a particular version upon readers. It is in this background that modern-day journalism has become infested with a pest called ‘opinion’. From breaking news to talk shows, we are being constantly bombarded with opinion disguised as “news”. Views have filled the vacancy of news. The ratio of opinion in a news report is on the rise. In journalistic parlance news is described as “impatient” but views have become so “impatient” that it has dethroned news.
1) “In a shocking decision that’s as regressive as some of those taken by the Taliban and the Khap panchayats, a group of maulvis in Malegaon have excommunicated five Muslims forallegedly being “apostates and infidels”. Their crime: they believed in and preached ideas and beliefs which reportedly went against Islam.”
2) “Has Talibanism breached the solid wall which guarded Indian Islam for centuries? If the diktat issued by a Sharia panchayat comprising a dozen or so clerics in the Muslim-majority town of Malegaon last week is any indication, it seems to have.”
3) Despite Ismail’s claims, however, a boycott is already in place as the excommunicated men are too afraid to visit the local mosque. And they are feeling the heat.
4) Islamic scholars and liberal thinkers insist that such a unilateral decision has no standing, especially as Islam doesn't recognise priesthood and the practice of ex-communication is non-existent, unlike in Christianity.”
5) “Indian Islam is not Talibani Islam. Moreover, there is a law of the land. If the clerics of Malegaon felt that these five Muslims were threat to peace, they could have approached the court instead of passing a medieval diktat.”
- It is not the job of a journalist to pronounce judgement. A news report can never be judgmental in nature. A journalist is only required to state facts as they are and get out of the reporting. In the same way drawing parallels is not intrinsic in the nature of good reporting. As Melvin Mencher, professor emeritus of Columbia School of Journalism, said, “Keep your opinions to yourself.”
- This provocative opening advocates that “Talibanism” has breached the solid wall of Indian Islam. Once again this falls in the category of opinion. Strictly speaking, it can never become part of a news report. News is sacred and views can be venomous. This is an edit page material where one is free to rant and rumble!
- This is journalist’s own perspective rather than the truth. The statement is a result of telephone journalism. A reporter is obliged to visit the place of incident to gain direct access to people involved in the news report. Journalism guru Roy Peter Clark terms this guideline as “unobtrusive”. He writes, “This guideline invites writers to work hard to gain access to people and events, to spend time, to hang around, to become such a part of the scenery that they can observe conditions in an unaltered state.” Also, this is no way to authenticate and verify that the five men are facing “social boycott”. Melvin Mencher has an advice for those who practice telephone journalism: “Don’t report from the office chair.”
- This claim is based on sheer falsehood. A Google search will reveal that people can be ostracized (I avoid the word “excommunication” simply for the reason that it originated from Church) in Islam. There have been many historical incidents where people have been declared “apostates” and “infidels.” The primary purpose of journalism is to tell the truth. Melvin Mencher says, “When in doubt, check it out.”
- There is nothing wrong with this statement as a “quote” in news story. People have right to express their views. The point here is the nature of hypocritical journalism some journalists practice. The Urdu “columnist” should raise this issue in the Urdu newspaper he is associated with!