In a male-drive world, how does it feel to be a working woman? Especially a journalist in the time when the main goal is getting more views than others and all ethics are forgotten?
Jahnavi Maurya and Jasmine Singh
The media circus around Sushant Singh Rajput’s (SSR) case has been unreal to watch. A media trail this intense has left a mark on people’s mind, and more importantly, it created a scenario where we can see all the ethical codes thrown out of the window.
Stalking and harassing celebrities is something one may expect from the paparazzi, but seeing senior and well-known journalists fall under this trope is a disgrace to the whole industry. As a journalist, there are certain ethical codes that one must follow.
Faye D’Souza, a renowned journalist, who has tried to live by these ethics as much she can, recently released a YouTube video titled, “Media Trial of SSR Case: All the Rules Broken”.
In the discussion, Saba Naqvi, a political analyst, and professor at the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication (JSJC) talked about how the news media hit a new low during this media trial.
An intriguing point brought forward by professor Naqvi was how it was particularly disgusting to see that even the female journalists are ready to go along the highly misogynistic narrative that we can see around this case.
With many questions unasked or unanswered, one of the critical questions is- How often do journalists, particularly female journalists, have to go along with immoral practices and what, if anything, can they do about it?
“As someone who ran a political bureau, it never happened under my watch, but I am sure it happens all the time,” Saba Naqvi said when asked about the ethical stance.
“Even during conversations, women who do not like a certain stand are called uptight, difficult, and hysterical. You can never see the same language used for a man who gets difficult but happens for a woman, everywhere,” she continued.
Naqvi concluded by saying, “many young girls have to compromise with having to put up with a male boss who may not even be deserving of the post because women do not get into the direct positions of authority.”
Unlike men, for women, getting into the field has to do with the atmosphere at the workplace being less hostile towards them, let alone getting the job in the first place. To shed more light on this issue, we talked to Kajori Sen, a former NDTV journalist, and currently a professor at JSJC.
“Back then, when the whole industry was going hammer and tongs about Nupur Talwar, I remember Sonia (the editorial director and president of the NDTV ethics committee) say, that we need to interview her, for her perspective” recalls Kajori Sen.
She said this while drawing parallels between the 2008 Noida double murder case and the SSR’s media trial.
Sharing her experience as a journalist, she said, “I have been at points where I am like ‘this story should not be published like this’. But the majority backlash is so much that, after one point, you give up. One can only tone down their own stories to get rid of these gendered perspectives. That is not possible with every story since the final call is with the editor.”
“Do not get me wrong; women too have internalised misogyny so much that, for TRP, they are ready to sell out,” she said when asked about the victimisation of female journalists.
From her experiences as a vocal woman on the internet, she shared, “I am a Hindu upper caste, so I face relatively much less abuse than my Muslim and Christian colleagues. Still, if you are on the internet, get used to it.”
Being a woman certainly puts you at a disadvantage at the workplace since you face the wrath of patriarchy, and we can see that evidently from the examples given above.
Reeti Prakash, a third-year law student at Jindal Global Law School, said, “I do believe that the narrative in the SSR case has taken a lot of misogynistic turns, but I feel that is because of the section of the society concerned.”
“As this narrative is catering to the rightist, orthodox majority, it has taken that viewpoint as well. The journalists also start to feed into it and appease the audience by giving them what they want,” she continued.
The hostility that women face in the workplace regardless of the profession is quite prominent and has had a few conversations around it. Especially in a field like journalism, ethical responsibility is something that everyone that’s working to put a news piece out there must follow.
Consumers of the news, on the other hand, should be aware whenever the media is crossing the line and should call them out on that. If the authorities are held accountable by the media, then the viewers should hold the press accountable too. That said, as media professionals, there should not be a need to be called out. After all, the code of ethics is something a journalist should always stick by.
Edited by Himanya Kaur & Bhavya Vemulapalli