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Thursday, 15 August 2013

                 JOURNALISM AND ETHICS

 Journalists' main goal is to ensure the right of citizens to truthful and important information, which allows them to form adequate impression about social processes, their essence and importance, about the situation in the modern world.
The journalist bears responsibility before the society in general, before the law and before the professional association. The social responsibility of the journalist requires that he acts in accordance with his personal ethical standards.
The ethics of the trade involve permanent responsibility of the journalist for everything he/she does in the framework of his/her professional obligations, rather than sticking to the rules which were established once and for all.
The present Code shall set a high standard of ethical and professional behaviour for people involved in searching, receiving, keeping, distributing and commenting on information in the mass media. The norms of the Code are not obligatory requirements and formulated as moral guidelines or standards against which media employees can compare their professional work. The norms of the journalists Ethics Code cannot be used as the ground for holding media employees criminally, administratively, disciplinarily or otherwise responsible, except the responsibility in the framework of media self-regulation.

Freedom of the press

Mass media freedom is one of the major guarantees of the freedom of speech, an obligatory element for ensuring other civil rights and freedoms. The freedom of the press involves the possibility to freely discuss and criticize the activities of both the authorities and civil and private structures. Journalists contribute to the realization of the right to express unpopular opinions or agree with the point of view expressed by the majority.
The journalist must defend the freedom of speech, retain independence of his/her political views and convictions. He/she must resist any efforts to distort information or introduce censorship.
Like any other citizen, the journalist has a right to political and other convictions. However, in his/her professional activity he/she should remain neutral and objective

Friday, 26 July 2013

                                            NO MORE TELEGRAM

We have all been reading a number of articles in various newspapers on the sad end to a wonderful means of communication, the ‘Telegram’ and the telegraph service.
The telegraph service was established in India in 1853. However, it all began in 1839 when Dr. William Oshaugh-nessy, an Assistant Surgeon to the Bengal Medical establishment of the East India Company, laid the first telegraph line in India from the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta.
As always happens, this novel idea too met with its fair share of opposition from people who were indifferent to it and even the authorities too were not very encouraging. Sanction, however, came from the latter almost twelve years later and as a result, the line between Calcutta and Kedgree was declared open in 1950. This speaks volumes of the pioneering efforts, that in 4 years this system was considered sufficiently established to be opened to the public.
Later, Dr. William Oshaugh-nessy, who took a keen interest in telegraphy, developed a new system and laid wires between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour, a distance of about 21 miles. Officially, this is considered to be the inaugural telegraph line in the country; it was the year 1853. The centenary celebrations were held in November 1963. Farther North, another line was laid between Agra and Calcutta in 1854. The year 1865 is a landmark in the history of the telegraph service because England and India were connected by this remarkable new system.
In 1859, a school was opened for the training of young men in telegraphy. Since the Morse Code was in English, a large number of Anglo-Indian and English-knowing Indians joined the telegraph service.
Morse Code which was used in the transmission of signals consists of dots and dashes in different combinations. For example, one dot and a dash represents the letter ‘A’ and two dots side by side represents the latter ‘I’, three dots represents the letter ‘S’ etc. This system became useful for transmission of telegrams quickly and to far away places.
The telegraph key/tapper consisted of a brass lever mounted on a wooden base and a receiver called the Duburn Sounder and it worked on electricity from a battery or power source connected to the apparatus. By the up and down movement of the key, the lever on the top of the sounder moves with a make and break in the circuit, thus the codes were used for transmission. The telegraphists were nick-named ‘Brass Beaters’ because they tapped the brass lever of the key in order to transmit the telegram.
The charges for the transmission of a telegram varied from time to time. Greeting telegrams were also introduced with various phrases for all occasions to help the public and the charges were reduced for these. It was also the quickest way to send death and congratulatory messages to friends and family.
On a personal note, I would like to mention here with immense pride that four of the members of my family (including myself) served the P&T Department (some members served between 1927 and 1996). My father James Rodrigues joined the postal service in 1928 as a clerk in the post office located in Halladakeri. He was paid Rs. 8 and later Rs. 10 as a monthly salary and later became a signaller with an increase of Rs. 2 after training. He was happy with the white collared job.
The transmission of telegrams was chiefly looked after by the Postal Wing for several decades. Later, the telegraph service was extended to large cities and Postal Department continued to look after the transmission and delivery of telegrams in smaller town post offices. In 1943-44, several postal clerks, signallers, telegraphists and jamedars volunteered their services during Word War II on the Burma front, Italy and Middle East.
Around 1950, the transmission of telegrams from the Head Post Office was taken over by the CTO Wing which became an independent wing after bifurcation and several smaller towns connected with Morse facility were joined to it. The main office began to expand and improve down the years. Teleprinters were gradually introduced in the department like ‘Siemens’ (German model), ‘Creed (British), ‘Olivitti’ (Italian) and finally ‘Hindustan’ teleprinters (Madras) to help in quick transmission of messages and even lenghty press messages without much strain.
Messages conveying ‘Death’, ‘Serious’ or ‘Start immediately’ followed by a reason of urgency were given top priority. Even press messages were given priority. Press correspondents who handed in their reports were of a very friendly nature, especially Krishna Vattam, who is known to me since several years, stands tall among them. The number of telegrams slowly increased due to several factories and business establishments that were on the rise and thus thousands of telegrams were handled everyday.
Talking in terms of the number of telegrams handled per day reminds me of the highest number of telegrams received and transmitted at CTO, Mysore, as I recall being on duty that day, was on the day of the marriage of Princess Gayathri Devi, which added to the already large number of regular marriage telegrams during the marriage season. Several thousands, both inland and foreign telegrams, used to be handled by the dedicated staff under the Superintendent in-charge.
However, with the introduction of computers, FAX etc., the entire Morse code lines were removed in January 1997, a year after I retired from service. At the turn of the millennium with the coming of other gadgets like the cell phone, with its SMS and the internet, with its e-mail sounded a death knell to the telegraph service. It is a great pity that this public service should come to an end, after having served in the Department for several years. I can only offer a ‘silent tear.’

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Photojournalism is a sub discipline of photography which involves of capturing images to help tell a story. In a large number of cases, these individuals are hired by newspapers or magazines. A number of famous newspapers have made a name for themselves based on the photographs that were published under their publications.
There are three qualities which make photojournalism distinct from other branches of photography such as documentary, celebrity or street photography. The first is relevance. In photojournalism, the images captured have meaning consistent to the published record of events. Objectivity is the second. The image captured must be unbiased, accurate and fair in representing the event being documented. This has become harder in the days of the digital camera and the use of editing programs. The third involves the narrative that combines the image with the other elements of the news, giving the reader or viewer greater insight into the event or situation.
There are two basic types under this field. The first branch involves capturing photos in support of a news article. Some journalists work closely together with photographers for a particular story. The photographers would be paid for the images that get published along with articles. Under this type of photojournalism, there is no limit as to the number of photographs will be used or published. This decision is left to the discretion of the photo editor. 
The second type is the more popular form of photojournalism. Under this type, the photograph stands on its own without any article or words to accompany and describe the image. The number can range from a single picture to as many as ten to one single publication.
Smaller, lighter and more powerful cameras and equipment have made the job of photojournalists easier. However, it has also made their responsibility more difficult. With the development of digital cameras, thousands of images can be captured and then stored on a single memory card. Images can be captured, scanned and sent to their respective publications or news companies within minutes or even seconds of being taken. This is a big leap from 15 years ago and more where publications need to wait at least 30 minutes before receiving the images. The availability of such technologies to the average consumer has given each one the ability to become a photojournalist.
Citizen journalism has become more popular with the development and availability of more powerful cameras and equipment. This makes each individual who owns a camera or camera phone aware of their own surroundings, capturing the moment and publishing them online. Photographs are a testament to what has happened in the past and present, capable of making people aware of events and situations which are happening in other places.
Photojournalists document events, helping communities connect with one another. Even years after the event is over, people will remember the event and the emotions involved with just seeing a single photograph.