Curious about the life of celebrities, a common man, if s/he is sensitive to the turbulences in urban life, would wonder how they absorb the heat of being under the spotlight of public attention and criticism. Popular politicians hardly find peace and tranquility. Professionals – say a dedicated doctor who helps people during humanitarian crises – have no scope to enjoy a smooth private life.
Newsmen as witnesses to not-so-sweet happenings are not an exception. A common question we encounter is: How do journalists deal with news items of so much negativity all the time? A former boss of mine gave the answer: “One should not be a journalist unless s/he can uphold human values even at the height of provocation, mood swings, or personal sufferings.”
There are creatures who are seen formulating all-evil arguments to justify a bad step or corrupt practices, making newspaper readers and television viewers feel suffocated even more. Of late, the news editor of a television station told me that he didn’t watch TV or read the newspaper at home. “Why should I make myself pale for a whole day by knowing all the bad news items?”
This, I suspect, is a sign of social despair, so much so that we are losing our confidence and trying to withdraw ourselves from social activities. Still, we are not free from the influence of incidents and unwanted developments at home and in the international arena, as reflected in the media.
Four of a family found dead! A young girl commits suicide! A young man jailed for drawing a caricature! Ruling party MPs grab land! Only two pass in DU admission test for English! Floods inundate northern districts! Bank money worth millions embezzled! Bangladesh humiliated in Test matches in the West Indies!
We can list many headlines that evoke sad feelings – seven murders in Narayanganj, launch capsize, forced disappearance of over 300, plane crash, killings in Gaza, or the civil wars in the Middle East and Ukraine. Added to these are the news-making statements which are tantamount to bullying, which traumatise recipients.
Today, commoners can predict what a former leftist-extremist, who turned into an opportunist minister, is going to say – no words of reconciliation other than attacking comments. A PhD holder, who lost cabinet portfolio, claims his political adversaries communicated with his party at the dead of night, although his own party chief has said all her party colleagues could be purchased.
Ah. An ex-dictator, who bought many politicians and is now more predictable about his unpredictability, has lost his amusement value for his overplay. Powerful politicians, who are scared of facing the people’s wrath for their undemocratic behaviour, often issue threats against political demonstration, or call hartals in the name of democracy.
And there is no recess. Many generations are getting sick of the ceremony of ignorance, corruption, coercion, and usurpation. Like it or not, the proud presence of the culprits in the media causes frustration and anger among the people. We are undergoing a disturbing process of increasing antipathy or apathy regarding the media reports, in a country where once, news had serious entertainment value.
One may ask: Can the media play otherwise, to paint a rosy picture to inspire the people about life and living? Notably, the journalists’ business is of facts and the examination of truth, if not the universal truth and the tested truth. So, the media can’t give you good news when there is no good news – no increase in jobs, no rule of law, no end to corruption and nepotism, and no cessation of hostilities all around.
I can swear, it’s not the duty of media professionals to hide the truth or make self-censorship the way the coercive state tries to censor, to undermine the power of the media and stop it from speaking for the people. It is, therefore, important to express the harsh reality of maintaining journalistic ethics so that members of the society force the political actors to bring changes.
We live in a world of imagination, and it is turning sombre with every passing day in the absence of real-life inspirational stories. We also can’t present ourselves as happy artificially, turning our face from the crude facts of life. Whatever happens in a society is not a passive reality. There are actors definitely, especially within the political element, behind facts, incidents, and developments. The media too can’t exist as passive entities.
What then is our choice? To be an ignorant happy man or an informed, dissatisfied citizen, a protagonist of the establishment or a critic?
Celebrities, as the most widely-covered people in the media, have the responsibility of pointing out ills and injustices in political dispensation if they want to save society from degradation and sterilisation and retain their own image as social role models, at the very least.
The conscientious people are bound to protest misdeeds when an entire society is getting more polluted every day. The other option is to die well before the actual death by surrendering to the dominant clique.