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Guwahati Molestation: The Role of a Journalist

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The role of a journalist is to gather and report news. At certain times, such as the case with the recent Guwahati molestation, a reporter can be torn between his job as a broadcaster of news and his calling as a human being.

Without passing judgment on why the reporter chose to film the incident, let us think of the various situations that were presented to this journalist.

Watching a scene as horrifying as that unfold and taking no step to control the situation is akin to being a perpetrator of the crime itself. Here was a person, who stood there and watched the incident while condemning it (hopefully!) in his mind. This was a supposedly educated mob (logically linking from the fact that all were exiting from an expensive bar) who perpetrated the crime when a sole voice of reason could have stopped them.

Moving on from those who committed the crime, let us now focus on the victim. She is perhaps still caught in a state of trauma, having lost complete faith in humanity. Perhaps she wouldn’t have felt so, if someone or anyone had tried to help her. Perhaps that could once again establish her faith in life.

On the other hand, our society encourages and needs journalists who are ‘inhumane’, who choose to stand back and watch and in some cases – and record. In a nation like ours, we document more than 1 rape a day in the capital. It is so common now that it does not even warrant a mention in the front page of most leading dailies. Yet, India needs the shock-treatment in the form of a video to start a movement. There are rapes and molestations that cry themselves hoarse in search of justice and yet this girl in Guwahati, gets all the limelight. The reason being, her molestation was taped. What would have happened if the tape didn’t exist? Oh well, she would end up being just another victim of our inefficient justice system. Most of the mob would never be identified or dragged to court. So has the journalist done the girl a service here? Has he managed to ensure that the girl gets justice? Will this give her closure? A sense of peace?

Likewise, it’s believed that a journalist’s job is to be impartial and fair, which subsequently means that the journalist is to not engage in the brawl himself! And such behaviour has been rewarded too– Yazushi Nagaha won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for the photograph of an assassination, where this journalist had to move 5 feet to adjust his lens-focus, valuable time in which he easily could have intercepted the murderer.


Arnav Das
[email protected]

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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