Saturday, December 2, 2023

Journalism and Jharkhand: challenges and the road ahead

Jamshedpur : In an average human life, the span of 24 years is a significant time that sets the tone for the quality of life a person is about to lead in the years to come. Although custom may not provide for any special advantage to a person this old, it definitely outlines the maturity level and experiences one achieves at this stage. With The Avenue Mail turning 24 on 21st June, it only becomes imperative to go down memory lane and realize the milestones achieved, challenges faced and review one�s level of efficacy in dealing with what lies ahead-both in terms of good omen and ugly realities.

Having started with a humble impression, The Avenue Mail treaded the jagged path of journalism with limited experience and unlimited aspirations and vigour. Breaking the ground by becoming the first English daily printed from the land of Tatas (later on becoming Jharkhand�s first English daily based and printed within the state), it not only served as a cradle of journalism for many aspiring journalists, but also witnessed the formation of a tribal state right from its pre-nascent state to its birth. Today, the state of Jharkhand, as has this newspaper, rose beyond its prematurity and adolescence to command a full consciousness of its existence, its objectives and responsibilities. In more than one ways, the Avenue Mail shares many of its traits with this promising state, be it their common chronological-spatial time frames or their unbending attitude in dealing with challenges.

For the two entities, challenges are too many. From the point of view of a state of the likes of Jharkhand, challenges consist mainly of unemployment, poverty, stunted growth, waywardness of its socio-political-economic system and lack of opportunities to turn its disadvantages into future promises.

The list of challenges however remains long enough to be counted on fingers. As for a newspaper having the distinction of causing the first spark in the unfathomed darkness, the challenges are no less. These challenges are the ones being faced round the world by media-persons. From large global media players down to the most humble newspapers, the major challenge is to continue enjoying the undying trust of the people.

From being news gatherers to becoming opinion makers, threats are too many for the �power-wielding� journalists to overcome and prevent themselves from becoming crest-fallen angels or fallen gods. Yes, to put it somewhat in terms of Albert Einstein, the future generations would scarcely believe that a truly honest, objective and unbiased newspaper ever existed on Earth! Given the predictions of media pundits which do not see a future of print media, the above observation seems even more plausible.

The question then arises�is it a question of credibility or a question of survival? Both questions seek answers that not only meet the challenges but are also viable. Going to the basics, one can only say that following a straight path is not a bad idea. Following the ethics of the profession, giving news objectively instead of churning news commercially and unethically and giving readers and viewers a balanced and unbiased view of the world is what can save the day.

Jharkhand, still struggling to become a developed state, is also facing a similar dilemma. Stuck in the bog of regional politics aimed at capturing the seat of power, the state too, faces the tough challenge of achieving a growth driven by industry and yet maintaining the status of being a welfare state.

With Chief Minister Raghubar Das trying his best to put Jharkhand on the path of rapid progress through industrialization, the days are not far when the state is counted among developed provinces of the country.

Having won kudos for organizing the Global Investors� Summit in Ranchi to attract investors, the CM too, had to face myriad roadblocks. One was to make amendments in the land laws to ensure that the tribal people long deprived of prosperity are able to enjoy the cream yielded by the churning wheel of industry. Despite opposition, the CM went on with his plans and has succeeded in ensuring implementation of Rs 700 crore worth of investments so far.

By offering token registry fee of Rs 1 for women and offering loans to the farmers of the state at 1 per cent rate are some other achievements of the state government towards woman empowerment and farmers� welfare. The Avenue Mail has been keeping the torch of journalism aglow with similar determination and perseverance.

No matter how unpredictable and tough future situations are, it has the courage to tide over every hurdle and turn its disadvantages into golden opportunities!

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