WITH ALL due respect to this lexicon that has somehow found its way into Queen’s English, a dog, actually’ doth not eat a dog! As the consequences — both short term and long term — of the News of the World fiasco become more and more opaque, and the dust refuses to settle down, one idea that often strikes us, we journos, is precisely that very saying: dog eat dog.

As always, spin doctors are ready and set with their bows – already shooting off, in fact – aiming at those running without a cover (cover, shall we say?).

‘We told you so!’ ‘These journos, most of them, are like that only; they can go to any extent chasing a story!’

The credibility question, or crisis, as many would like to call it, is going to haunt our fra- ternity for long. However, the roots of the cur- rent thunder, I strongly believe, are not con- fined to the land of the River Thames alone. It’s a truly global ‘equation’.

The rot, as it turns out, is somewhat like an LPG gas pipeline crisscrossing continents, breaking the barriers of geography. As one tries disseminating the symptoms, the traces of a common virus become visible, rather ominously.

We have ‘all’ given up. That’s the first thing; resigned to the dictates of the ‘management’, often the corporate management, for a long while now.

Aren’t we supposed to get it ingrained in our minds that we are, after all, working on a product that is be sold like anything else: a toothpaste, for example, or detergent, or a soft drink!

And, don’t we know these are the ‘Dumbing Down’ times? Muster up courage Let us come to it straight away. How many times are we able to muster up the courage – and, as a corollary fail to gobble up that – to nail down a Big Entity, while we are armed with plenty of supportive evidence?

In these times of compromises, it’s rather an uncompromising choice to keep aside “those lofty” ideals of the profession (that we had fooled ourselves into believing they existed, before starting to peddle the new boat). And if we do not, where shall the boat head to?

‘Does it sell?’ they ask. ‘Why not?’ you retort back. ‘Does it matter?’ they prod. ‘How do you know it doesn’t?’ you quip. “Do it this way!” And that’s it. Full stop!

The point is, the best of the talents prob- ably no longer join this profession of pen-pushers anymore. It was the freedom of pushing the boundaries that was the big pull. Rising every morning believing that this day one would prob- ably end up doing something that’d give one a bout of professional pride. That, one was able to make a difference to the lives of some in a meaningful and positive way.

But that, alas, is no longer the mantra. Either you take it (‘do it this way’), or go scouting for a new destination, and designation, mind you!

The problem is, there are too many pulls and pressures on the journalist today. While they can still battle it out on the external front, it’s often the ‘internal battles’ that leave them completely sapped, helpless, confused, fearful, status quoist, unimaginative, and as it turned out in the case of the News of the World, deceitful and conniving. Dog eat dog!

(This article first appeared on the Edit page in the Times of Oman newspaper on August 1, 2011. Below please find the page)

Edit Page - When newsmen become news

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