Thursday, November 05, 2009

P. N. Balji: On journalism, journalists and Sri Lanka

Journalism today is under attack everywhere, both in physical and ethical senses. Newspapers are dying in the developed countries. The internet model is still being figured out. Journalists are being fired as newspapers fold up city after city. From the readers' perspective, corporate-controlled media carries less and less credibility.

In the developing countries, the situation is different. The media is struggling between censorship and greed. In India, where the media sprawl is stupendous, there are reports of unethical practices (News for sale: How media is squandering its credibility). In Sri Lanka, both the profession and the professionals are feeling the squeeze.

Veteran Singapore journalist and editor P N Balji shares his views on journalism in the context of the situation in Sri Lanka in this interview with a Sri Lankan paper. His remarks on journalism and his advice to journalists are pure wisdom--something all journalists and editors anywhere in the world should read and keep in mind:

I recommend objective activism. By that I mean present as many sides as possible. And let the readers decide. Media can never give the truth. It can only give some truths. Make sure you give every shade of opinion on a subject. Don’t rush into print with unconfirmed stories. Check and double check. Make corrections the next day if there are inaccuracies.

If you don’t have the passion for the profession, please don’t get into it. With the world becoming more complex and major shifts taking place, we need journalists who can slice and dice the issues and say with confidence and some certainty what it all means to your reader.


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