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Friday, January 21, 2022

Prasanna Joshi: ‘Media Is Opposition In Permanent Gear’

An icon in the present Indian media, Prasanna Joshi in conversation with Transcontinental Times' CEO Roshan Bhondekar - placing Indian media, press freedom, government, democracy and people all on one table

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

INDIA. Mumbai: Indian journalist, Prasanna Joshi has a track record of asking the right questions to the government, politicians and those in power. He has been in the industry for more than 15 years. Joshi is an icon in the context of Indian media for contributing to construct a powerful democracy in India.

Executive Editor at Saam TV News and ex Sr. Producer-Anchor at ABP Majha, Prasanna Joshi joins Transcontinental Times’ 360-degree live show with Indian-Spanish entrepreneur Roshan Bhondekar. 

Excerpts from the interview

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Who inspired your life as a journalist? Give us a ride on your journey.

“It all started with a coincidence. This is in 2007, I had two options; I had done my post-graduation in commerce, and I was great at marketing, but I remember seeing this advertisement about a journalism course in a renowned Pune college and I wanted to try my hands at it, it was a eureka moment. I already had the skillset, I had previously participated in journalistic competitions, surveys, and writing assignments. Soon everything fell in line, I got a job in print media alongside my diploma. After I completed my MA in Mass Communications and Journalism, Star Majha, known as ABP Majha started their venture and the opportunity was right before me. That’s how it started out for me, I found my calling, I found myself.”

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“Shifting from Bombay to Pune was another breakthrough for me, Pune played a vital role in developing my ideologies and personality, the culture of that city taught me to become a sponge, I also realised that I liked expressing myself. I remember my first ever interaction with media was Daily Sakal, which is a huge media group in Maharashtra and where I am currently working. Back in 1999, I addressed an issue in Pune by writing a letter to the editor of Daily Sakal, which happened to appear in their newspaper. I was in awe as someone had taken notice of me, soon opportunities knocked and I was driven to the field of journalism.”

Also Read: Suryakant Wagh: ‘Focus On Your Goal, What People Say Won’t Matter’

Old school of journalism vs the new wave

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“I spent only a little time with the old school of journalism — public broadcasting, Akashwani, reporting for Tarun Bharat, Belgaum, so those were the old days for me. Joining Star Majha in 2007 was like entering the new wave of journalism for me, so then and now is not 2007 vs 2021 for me. When I entered full-fledged journalism, I was already in the new wave of journalism. Not just Star Majha, but many other TV channels started out around 2007, and each one of them was competing with Doordarshan — with a view to change the ways of journalism. When Star Majha came along with the others, they had it different — the anchoring, studio, language, presentation style, youthful content, it was all more vibrant than the bland style of Doordarshan, and watching news beyond the TV screen, on the news channel website, or blogging was something miraculous happening at that time.”

Further, Joshi talks about the unnecessary tensions and complexities of Indian politics and ideologies with the press in the picture, whilst trying to simplify the paradigm. 

He also underscores press freedom and independent journalism for which media houses need to come up with financial independence, supported by the audience and viewers.

“Media organisations definitely face government pressures or from interested entities who want to mingle with media, but the problem is the current government needs to be more open. Every government wants to suppress media, they don’t media to be critical about the government. That love-hate association goes on. But in the current scenario, something needs to be fixed — if I criticize the government I am not your enemy, this needs to be understood with the help of an audience who support independent journalism. Other than that, the government should understand what future we are leading to, they are a part of the country too, just like me.”

How can you guide the youth pursuing journalism?

“Unfortunately we have journalism courses, but no media literacy course and media literacy inevitably will lead to democracy literacy, civic sense and constitution literacy; it goes beyond writing a lead or the inverted pyramid, camera angles or language, that is only learning how to use media, not media literacy. I think such courses need to be taught where it is taught how media works or is expected to work, how political ideologies play a role in media, not just for journalism students but as basic skills too. In my journalism course too, I wasn’t taught about propaganda or how it works. Media can be lethal too, it can be used as a WMD, so that needs to be taught too. People should understand their rights, this will in turn lead to positive pressure on media. By the pressure of society, the media has to stand in front of the government, that is the media’s basic role. Media is nothing but opposition in permanent gear.”

Last message to audience/viewers

“Question everything. Every news piece you read or video you watch — listen, but introspect closely, compare with other sources. Do not be loyal be any news source or channel, they are just products in offering. Consume news sources that give opposite views, that will give a broader perspective of things and help develop a civic spirit and enlighten us with free-thinking. Be loyal to the spirit of democracy, i.e. openness, scientific temperament, and ultimate loyalty should be to the constitution of the country.”

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