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Issue:January' 2018


Defining journalism

M. R. Dua

Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
New York, USA (2018)
Pp - 440 ,
The Central message in the book under review is “Ultimate defence of journalism is that it remains a public good.” After nearly 40 years of teaching and active journalism, Alan Rusbridger retired as editor of the prestigious British daily newspaper, The Guardian. He writes in herein, “The new news that is replacing ‘journalism’ is barely understood... but, it is here to stay and is revolutionizing not only systems of information but also the most basic concepts of authority and power.” What has happened to journalism during the last 25 years, he says, is beyond estimation.
Rusbridger says, “journalists no longer have a near-monopoly on news and the means to distribution. The vertical world is gone forever.” ‘‘Journalists no longer stand on a platform above their readers. They need to find a new voice. They have to regain trust. Journalism has to rethink its methods; reconfigure its relationship with the new kaleidoscope of other voices. It has to be more open about what it does and how it does it.
A reputed American political commentator David Broder impressed Rusbridger the most. Broder reckoned journalism as “the process of selecting what the reader reads involves not just objective facts but subjective judgements, personal values and, yes, prejudices. Instead of promising ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’—(The New York Times’ credo printed daily in a box, left its masthead). He said, “...The newspaper that drops on your doorstep is a partial hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we heard about in the past 24’s t best we do under the circumstances, and we will be back tomorrow with a corrected updated version..
Rusbridger initiated steps to boost the paper’s investigative coverage of corruption cases that catapulted him and his paper into sharp focus. This worked.

Alan Rusbridger As the great depression of 2008 hurt everyone, including the newspaper industry, cutting coverages, laying off the staff and economizing on every front became the order of the day.The print editions suffered.
The Guardian, however, managed to stand out on its breaking news fronts. Many famous newspapers, like News of the World (NOW), had to close down to escape infamy for alleged coverage of phone hacking. American media mughal Rupert Murdoch faced humiliation and huge financial losses. But The Guardian escaped as Rusbridger’s news coverage strategy was based on the strength of his dictum: a newspaper is a great public service institution.

Rusbridger has listed a ten-point formula for: ‘‘the future journalism.

The book is highly meaningful at a time when a greater part of the media world suffers from the crisis of identity, trust and credibility. A must read for all who understand the value of the Fourth Estate in a democracy.