Over the course of the year, there is a day for almost anything and everything — and anyone and everyone — under the sun; at times, one feels giddy at this “overexposure” to attention. But ‘world news’ is a vertical that actually needs more spotlight — the more, the better. Today, 28 September, is World News Day, and this year, according to worldnewsday.org, the body that campaigns for this project, “the day will highlight the critical importance of credible journalism in providing trustworthy information about the climate crisis”. Be that as it may, it goes without saying that never has news been so delicately poised at the threshold of a revolution. So, let’s stick to the larger brief that “World News Day is a global campaign to display support for journalists and their audiences who, using facts and understanding, make the world a better place”, while also factoring in the incredibly important back story of the environment.
There are two critical takeaways we need to ponder over. One, the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic that has changed the way we think about life — and our planet — and how much journalism stands to gain by being the link that explains cause and effect. Two, news itself has been in the grips of a sweeping transformation, with “alternate” forms of platforms springing up every day and readership patterns changing in tandem with technological advancements. Given this background — the total volatility and flux that the news media, globally, finds itself in — there have to be basic tenets of journalism that cannot be compromised. Whatever may be the pulls and pushes. The challenge is to stick to the métier that news stands for while adapting to new interpretations.
“Journalism is the first rough draft of history” is a line popularly attributed to Philip L. Graham, who used to the Washington Post’s president and publisher: he, or whatever we extrapolated from what he said, couldn’t have struck a deeper chord, more than half a century after he set the bar. As members of the Fourth Estate, you cannot fiddle around or be opaque with telling people — or readers — what they need to know, in order to stand up for themselves, for their ideals, and, yes, Planet Earth. On this day, let us remember perhaps the most workman-like journalism summation by the great Henry Grunwald, one-time editor-in-chief of Time Inc: “Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.”