By Vishal Narayan
New Delhi: Print will no longer be the dominant media as it is being replaced by the digital medium that is rapidly becoming the arbiter of public discourse, says a well known US media educator who has taken up a teaching assignment in India.
Tom Goldstein, former Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism who is set to become the Founding Dean of the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, believes that “print will never occupy the dominant position” which it enjoyed until recently, and marked out digital media for its “malleability” and cheapness over the old medium for the decline of print worldwide.
However, Goldstein, a reporter himself for quite a number of years, refuses to endorse the growing perception about the falling standards in journalism, insisting that “journalism has improved markedly” over the last generation, and has, contrary to popular perception, “become more professionalised”.
“Of course, there are still notable ethical lapses among journalists, but I believe they are significantly fewer now than 50 years ago. Journalists certainly have a greater awareness now of what is right and appropriate,” the former reporter who has written for Newsday, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and New York Times told IANS in an e-mail interview.
He is also not unaware of the different intellectual climate which he will have to contend with in India and admits to the need to acquaint himself with the “social, historical and political milieu” of the country and to learn the “special nature of the Indian setting”.
“I have great ambitions for the journalism school, but I do not want to over-promise. I hope that the graduates will be clear thinkers with a deep understanding of history and public affairs, and that they will become leaders of journalism in India — and internationally,” he added.
On local US politics and Trump’s rise, the former member of the Pulitzer Prize Board blamed the media for not seeing it coming and ignoring the electorate.
“I think the simplest explanation is that people were ready for a change, and Trump provided that. I think many in the media did not give enough importance to the restlessness of the electorate,” he said.
He rubbished the notion of American media swearing strictly by either of the two principal political parties saying that the partisanship in American media is exaggerated.
“With the exception of Fox and MSNBC, most in the American media strive for non-partisanship. And you must remember that cable news channels like Fox draw small audiences. Sometimes we attribute far more influence to these channels than they actually have,” he explained.
Despite having over 20 years of experience as a teacher and dean, Goldstein confesses his inability to generalise what a good reporter is like, but pointed out a few common traits anyway.
“Some of the best reporters are insatiably curious, hard-working and stubborn individuals who possess an innate sense of social justice,” he said.