“I found myself questioning my pseudo belief that journalism has to be based on ethics, accountability, responsibility and not covered in muck and dirt to the point where it becomes unrecognizable”—wrote a renowned journalist Seema Mustafa in an open letter to Times Now rambling powerhouse Arnab Goswami in year 2016 (‘Dear Arnab, What About Pseudo Journalists?’). Seema is currently the editor-in-chief of her brainchild digital newspaper The Citizen.
Given the ensuing political metamorphosis, Seema’s predicament is but natural. She is actually staring into the abyss of disbelief, rather than pseudo belief, which seems to have battered her view of professional journalism.
These words, encapsulating a struggle for journalistic integrity, are poignant and prophetic. Seema finds herself grappling not with a pseudo belief, but with a stark reality. She has come to a bitter realization.
The relentless vilification she and other sane voices face in the world underscores the shrinking space for genuine discourse. The political landscapes that keep shifting, leaving little room for ethical and responsible reporting. The abyss of disbelief into which Seema gazes is a testimony to the challenges journalists face in countering rabid, sickening and nasty voices.
Perhaps there was a time, not long ago, when it was believed that media offers space for anything to have a renaissance. Even as social and political revolutions failed at times, the media revolution did succeed.
People who wondered dumbly about pseudo-ness in anything had a hope to pin on the media as an incredible public sphere where genuine notions about every compartment of life and society could revive through a decent debate. It was a high calling of journalism. Journalism was considered a noble calling, a room where ideas could be contested, and diverse perspectives could coexist.
Though, with the proliferation of media, we are putting up in an extremely expanded world and are more aware about the concepts of power and politics, we at the same time are turning pathetically powerless to influence or change the ‘powers-that-be’.
Conversely, we are parroting the powerful and echoing the senseless. The world has reduced people to cabbages who could not look the hogwash in the face without flinching. The pseudo-journalism, the pseudo-intellectuality, the pseudo-creativity and the pseudo-activism—the hogwash is humungous!
Media as a sensible space is shrinking and getting bloated with such hogwash stuff. The voiceless are getting more muted, and noises more forceful. Moreover, the market forces are overriding it, as they owe their allegiance to various stakeholders.
The platforms meant to initiate wholesome discourses are being transformed into stupid shouting stages. Shrieks, slurs and slander prevail in this mad show of misrepresentation—a relentless parade of ‘Pseudo-ness.’ The consequence is a world teetering on the brink of anarchy and annihilation, evident in the gross and gruesome realities strewn around us.
Everything is almost getting misrepresented. From our own images to broader perspectives, the pseudo-world is growing, and growing strong. We have reached a point where the real world has been marauded faceless and nameless. Unrevealed and unknown. Now, it is just the pseudo-world that dominates, decides and delivers.
And, it has come to stay with loads of vengeance and viciousness. It’s simple to guess why. The lily-white notions of persons and points-of-views is breaking fast, and with this is crumbling down the hope of the world that people like Seema Mustafa had a belief in. Interestingly, she ended her open letter with something that appears as an only ironic epitaph to the real world—
“I must learn to scream
at those who
do not agree with me,
call them a few names,
throw in pseudo a few times,
of course follow your lead…”
The pseudo-world has entrenched itself, and its impact is undeniable—an unsettling reality that demands contemplation and action to reclaim the authenticity and responsibility that journalism once embodied.
No gain saying that in the pseudo-world, de-learning and un-learning is the precondition for the process of re-learning. Shed off Senses—hence goes the mantra!