After getting up in the morning people without any discrimination in cultures, nature and religion get ready for three things. A toothpaste-along-toothbrush, a cup of steaming tea and the morning newspaper. After the strong popularity of electronic media, still today newspaper retains its own demand. Even when there is a lot of business to be carried out throughout the day, it doesn’t feel good to start without rounding the eye through the day’s newspaper, at least through the headlines. On special holidays when editions of a newspaper doesn’t come out, they search for the previous day’s newspaper that has been left out after reading it in a haste, or any other day’s newspaper that has be left out unread, or any unread article in some daily or weekly magazine. And for the retired ones the only escape from their negligent and family void world is the newspaper. Beginning from the First page’s ad to the Last page’s ‘Edited by’; these ‘neglected’ few kill their time.
Before the movement of banishing the illegal migrants popularly known as the ‘Axom Aandolan’, newspapers were not much popular. The only newspapers published from the state were ‘Dainik Janambhumi’ from Upper Assam, and ‘Dainik Axom’ and ‘Assam Tribune from Guwahati. The Guwahati published newspapers could only reach Upper Assam by the evening. The situation has moved to better today. With the aid of satellites it has become possible to publish the same edition of a single newspaper at various locations at Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat or Tezpur. The same news at the same time reaches readers from through the state. There has been an increase in the number of newspapers along with the increase of number of news. The Assam Aandolan attracted the mass towards newspapers and the aftermath of the movement gradually made them addicted towards news. The saying is true. Correspondents today seek new news- they need ‘hot news’. A doctor who has served for at least thirty-six thousand patients taking minimum of ten patients per day for ten years will never appear in the news; he’ll if he gets responsible (willingly?) for the death of some unlucky fellow. Among these the coping of common men like us, with such dangerous, cruel and addicted news is becoming permanent in our brains gradually without our knowledge. Like the addicted people, we too are falling prey to these dangerous, cruel and addicted news.
In the morning newspaper, we hunt for news of Aadibasi Aandolan and its cruelty mirrored with images, negligence of some unlucky official and the bullet that rode out of his modern ammunition, description of some terrorism carried out, or a detailed report of some female ravished by the armed forces. And when such news don’t appear, believe, reading a newspaper can be completed more quickly- (why?), coz, ‘Shah, no hot news today!’ Aah! What a turn time has taken!
Bigger problem of an addicted person is possibly not the drug or alcohol; rather it is the immunity that grows in him to fight such drug or alcohol. People who take such drugs or alcohol in a daily basis grow such immunity and thus deteriorate a body of strong built. Accounting for bad of the world, this problem is a worsening one and is gradually pulling our mind towards darkness.
There was a time when natural death of someone, alongside accidents, also touched everybody’s heart. And now? Not even does it matter the least for anyone (par the victimized family). An incident accounting to death of one or two persons doesn’t become a topic of discussion. The Reuters photo portraying a bullet ridden young body doesn’t even reach anybody’s heart. The name and address of the victim can be forgotten the very next moment. After all we search something ‘Hot’ at least that can pull a discussion till two days. ‘Did you see today’s newspaper?’ ‘Ya, I read, nothing special at all!’- A despair reply. And when such news is not available there is no other opt that to read some politically incited mob’s news or some show made by some politicians to showcase their ‘non-corrupted’ face!
Just like a drinker who loses control with the first peg in the beginning and later four pegs don’t affect him; similarly the Assamese who couldn’t kill a pigeon from his ceiling for dinner, today can pass through a corpse outside his boundary without even lending an eye. Today they can playfully sit on a sofa ignoring the cries of some neighbor in trouble. How amazingly had our heart rose its softening level and made it cruel! This has resulted only from the cruel news we keep hearing now-and-then. This is really ghastly. During our childhood, the children’s special page used to take us on a trip to dreamland. We would fly behind the clouds on the back of the winged horse of the prince, and today? Our children see the bloody snaps and ask- ‘Who died Papa- Ulfa or Army?’, ‘What is rape?’ Very critical is the time!
The immunity of our mind is increasing in a very wrong way. Like a dealer of alcoholic items, the media is increasing the bazaar of hot news. And we? Reflecting an addicted, we too sit early morning before the TV screen in wait of cries of a helpless child, or torture carried out on a wife/ mother before children or husband, or a story of agony of a cruel murder? Then? We are busy again- Marketing, Office, City bus!
Why is this situation?
Isn’t it the immunity born from the cruel, dangerous news we see? Any immunity grown from such news read daily- is not any less from addition of some deadly drug! The former one murders our mind, the latter body!
To free the habit of addiction of drugs there are many ‘de-addiction centers’. But relief from the addiction of cruel news can be brought by newspapers only. I have told in the beginning- among the advancement of electronic media, the mind of the mass retains affection for printed letters. Like Lady Diana’s death headlined the ‘New York Times’ (Lady Diana Killed In Rod Accident) in a non-masala way; if newspapers contain news laid in a cool way, may be gradually the past days will be back again when people read newspapers only for news.
The recent Beltola violence- unlike the electronic media which showed videos of violence, most of the printed media resorted their ‘real’ way of publishing the news in a peaceful manner and this identified them as ‘true journalists’. Can, the mindset of publishing the news in such way for the sake of the respect and name of the state, without hooking for money, claim of returning to the glories of the past days?
This is true that the happenings of today have also turned for its worse from its twenty-year-old face. Media will have to publish news with images without discrimination of good news, bad news, cruel news or peaceful news; it will require to be published. But in this article we are discussing that the corpse of the killed could be portrayed in place of the horribly-placed bullets in the body zoomed to its best. That makes news too, images too.
Then it might be possible to gear the heartless mass back to reins, if not a bit. Will it not be a good news for the mass too?
Is news made only for business is regarded as great? If the whole state breaks up- where can you and me stay in peace? Its time we went deeper into the matter.
Translation of 'Nrixonxo Khoboror Nisa' by Hridayananda Mahanta. The original article in Assamese appear in AANK-BAAK publications' 'ADDAR XONALI XAPON'.