Journalism in the Normative Mode

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The visual representation of the plight of migrant workers, who, for many days, are footslogging on the road and along the railway tracks, in a section of the media, both national and regional, may have been quite discomforting for the state. Such reporting, in specific cases leading to frictional tension created by the police between them and television media persons, certainly undermines the autonomy of the media, but, at the same time, we might fail to notice the similarity of location and the normative difference in the roles performed by the police and the mediapersons.

Both the police and mediapersons along with health workers and sanitation workers, as front-line warriors against COVID-19, empirically share the same risky space. And yet, they get locked in an exchange, which does not open itself to a collective understanding of common normative concerns, such as treating human beings equally. The police and paramilitary forces are primarily driven by the question of law and order, while some of the mediapersons are driven by normative order based on the protection of human life with dignity. The freedom of mediapersons, in an ideal sense, gets defined standing not just in favour of law and order, but a normative order entailing justice and dignity. Its claims to normative representation are only indirect. It does not say that it is the only agency to keep the state on a moral track. It can detect the normative failure of the state by pointing out the contradictions that are inherent in the functioning of the state. Those mediapersons who consciously walk into a normative role cultivate openness that is aimed at showing factual truth, but also the conditions that inhabit such truth.

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Updated On : 17th May, 2020

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