North - East - West - South or NEWS has been a dominant source of human cognition and enlightenment. The source of news and its distribution has always been evolving. However, over the last two decades, the ubiquitousness of technology and its resultant empowerment of an individual as a pro-sumer have metamorphosed both news generation and its consumption in a significant way. This has raised issues about the future of news and its socio-economic implications.
According to MJ Akbar, Editorial Director, India Today and Headlines Today, the future of news is assured. “The reason why news will always be in demand is because man is not a hermit,” Akbar said, “He lives in a community, and if you live in a community, then knowledge about others is essential to the peace and survival of the community.”
Talking about newspapers, he observed, “The newspaper has to be like a thali, which should consist of everything from rice, dal, lime, sabji and achaar. No thali is complete with achaar, similarly there should be balance of all sorts of news.”
But he noted that many media houses don’t know the balance between ‘achaar’ and basic food.
While the future of news is assured, Akbar was not so optimistic about the future of journalists. He pointed out, “We are not in the business of writing, we are in the business of communication. If one cannot communicate to their potential target, then there is no hope.”
According to him, a journalist usually falls into two kinds of trap – the first one is fish journalism, where in a journalist swallows any bait without thinking, where reporting becomes more of audio reporting. The second is the delusion trap. In this case, the journalist thinks he is more important that the information he is delivering.
For Akbar, India doesn’t need any platform to carry the news, it travels in the air.
MJ Akbar was expressing his views at the 6th International News Media Association (INMA) South Asia conference, held in New Delhi on August 7 and 8, 2012.