Anil Thakraney: Katju Sir, how do you teach curiosity?

20 Mar,2013

By Anil Thakraney


Haha. Press Council Chairman Justice Shri Markandey Katju has bowled another deadly googly. He now demands that journalists must have certain qualifications before they are hired, and he wants that to be mandated by law. Here’s the link to the story in mxm india:


I have a bad feeling Justice Katju thinks of Indian journalists exactly what he thinks of the rest of India; perhaps he believes that 90 percent of us are fools, and that might be the reason for the latest diktat. Be that as it may, one question immediately comes to mind: What sort of a qualification would Justice Katju deem as being appropriate for journalists? Is he happy with the Diploma in Mass Communications sort of a thing? Or does he have something else in mind? Doctorate in social sciences? Master’s degree in law? PhD in qualitative research? Graduate degree in English Literature? Would be interesting to know what would satisfy the boss.


Incidentally, does Justice Katju know that Carl Bernstein, the celebrated American journalist who broke the sensational Watergate scandal, wasn’t even a graduate, that he dropped out of college at the age of 16 to be a journalist? There are plenty of such shining examples. This is not to say the media should hire only school and college drop-outs. Every degree brings value to an individual’s skills, that’s common sense stuff, so there’s no point arguing with that. And it works for all walks of life. But I am not really sure where Justice Katju is going with this, where is he going to draw the line in terms of mandatory education levels.


However, I have a larger point to make: My own experience in journalism has taught me that aside from obvious skills like writing, articulation, research-gathering, etc, the Number One talent every journalist must possess is Curiosity, with a capital C. Minus that, a journalist is pretty much useless. And this is true whether he/she works for a mass TV channel or a niche industry portal. All the degrees collected by the individual are junk if he/she isn’t inquisitive by nature.


So then, dear Justice Katju, how do you teach someone to be a nosy parker? That single most important journalistic attribute. I would really like to know, I am curious! 🙂




PS: Good TV campaign by END7, an international NGO. The ads show how celebs react when faced with a ghastly tropical disease. Apart from other big names, it features our very own Ms Priyanka Chopra. Ready to squirm? Er, at the disease, not her acting skills.

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