Last week, I came across a copy of a supposedly leading national newspaper, named… well; naming it here would be unethical; which carried some utterly slanderous & uncouth remarks about a well-known spotless personality and I found myself musing over as to what ‘Journalism’ is actually, all about and what are the salient standards and ethics that journalists are supposed to follow and maintain. A bit of an online research revealed the following:
One of the leading voices in the U.S. on the subject of Journalistic Standards and Ethics is the Society of Professional Journalists. The Preamble to its Code of Ethics states:
...public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility.
Well, that more or less, sums it up for the standing of the daily I was talking about and establishes the standards and ethics that ought to be maintained by objective journalists catering to all media the world over.
Professional journalism, in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, I would say has been in a nascent stage ever since the establishment of the penal settlement. Throughout this circumstantially protracted period of infancy, there’ve been umpteen instances of aspiring individuals venturing to establish newspapers and magazines from time to time, but none succeeded in totality, except ‘The Daily Telegrams’, the daily paper run by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration, which has irrefutably established itself as nothing but the raw, undisguised mouthpiece of the A & N Administration.
Although there have been quite a good number of individual freelance writers catering to the most reputed of national newspapers in the mainland India, some of whom rose to national and international fame beyond the territorial limits of the Islands as well. Their magnificent works on multifarious subjects were recognized highly and widely. But there has, constantly, been an inscrutable dearth of standard professional newspapers in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands all the while, which is a matter that inspires further research and analysis.
“‘The Light of Andamans’ was born out of the zeal and determination of one man; Paras Ram, to fight against the suffocating Kafkaesque atmosphere on the society that existed even after 30 years of Independence under bureaucratic rule. It was a hangover of the ‘Raj’ that extended much too long in the Islands,” writes Govinda Raju, the seasoned & proficient present editor of the weekly, who basks in his lyrical sobriquet – ‘Raz Andamani’.
He, further, writes in the ‘about us’ section of the online edition of the weekly, “He started ‘The Light of Andamans’ in 1975. But it was not a smooth sailing. It was printed in letter press and there were only three such presses in Port Blair.”
Paras Ram, the founder of ‘The Light of Andamans’
“After a few issues, the bureaucrats found it too unpalatable for their refined taste. Words went out to ensure that the paper was not printed. He took the next logical step and set up a press of his own after pledging his house to the bank.”
“‘The Light of Andamans’ had always been a crusader, taking up the causes that no other newspaper would touch. In doing so, it very often stepped on the toes of the authorities and had to face persecution in the form of denial of advertisements and numerous court cases against Mr. Paras Ram. He was arrested and prosecuted for his free and fearless reporting. But he continued in the same vein till ill health caught up with him. He had to give up and the publication came to a halt in 2003.”
Basudev Dass and Govinda Raju of ‘Gezira Publications Private Limited’ contacted Mr. Paras Ram in the year 2005 for transfer of the title in a bid to revive the second oldest newsmagazine from extinction and also to carry forward the mission that Mr. Paras Ram had started. He willingly agreed to transfer the title without any financial consideration.
“The Newsmagazine, under the new management, has undergone a sea change both in form and content. It turned into a full-fledged tabloid with 12 pages with plenty of photographs making both pleasing to the eyes and soothing for the mind. The quality of printing, the layout everything is unique as compared to other journals of the same genre. The contents are both refreshing, and thought provoking as well.”
“It has acquired a position where it influences the policies of the Administration and the Government of India in vital matters concerning the development of the islands, protection of aboriginal tribes and addressing the problems of the disadvantaged groups. The newsmagazine is known and appreciated for its bold, free, fair and balanced reporting.”
Govinda Raju and his team have worked very hard to rebuild the reputation, goodwill and a healthy new image of the newsmagazine brick by brick and I personally feel that the established codes of standards and ethics would always be upheld and maintained by ‘The Light of Andamans’ as long as the fervent ‘Raz Andamani’ is in charge.
Now, with the impressive, professionally done online edition at http://www.lightofandaman.com the weekly is more easily accessible to readers from all over. I wish the exceptional newsmagazine all the very best and look forward to gorge on every issue every week!!!
"A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself" - Arthur Miller