Journalists as prophets . . !

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MANY years ago, my column was read by a well-known person in Canada, who decided he would write to me in the email address generally carried beneath my column. After a few complementary lines on my article, he concluded by saying “Bob, the journalists of today are like the prophet of old!”

I had some knowledge those days of the prophets he was referring to, but decided I would study them further, and at the end of my research was not too sure that the writing profession was the best to be in.

The prophets of old I realized were almost all lonely men or women, whose job was to tell the people and rulers where they were going wrong, almost always incurring the wrath of the rulers. They were guided by God, and had a firm sense of justice. Which meant they had to be very brave people. Many of them were not, and ran away, when they were supposed to go in front of a ruler and tell him or her that they were ruling wrong.

They were always afraid to lose their head, and many times did, after getting whipped publicly or thrown in prison. But they were men of God, and ultimately had to do their job. Are we doing ours here in our country?

Very often at a party, someone who’s had his third drink and going on to his fourth crawls up to me, and tells me in slurred tones, “I also wanted to be a writer!” “Ah!” I tell him or her, “Then what happened?” “My family wanted me to become a doctor!”

And very painstakingly I explain to them that being a writer is not just the ability to wield a pen but to be brave in the face of adverse circumstances, and if they couldn’t convince their family and dare to develop their God given talent, they were certainly not journalist material! Something else I found out about prophets was that they were quite the lonely people!

They didn’t have many friends, because people were most probably scared to be associated with them. “There’s no point being his friend, because we might spend jail time with him!” Something like pressing a ‘like’ on Facebook for some article the government felt was anti-national, and you landing in prison! There was a lot more I learnt about prophets in my study, but found one thing that was very satisfying, prophets lived by the truth. Their only law was the truth, and with that as their barometer all readings that fell short had to be rectified.

Are we the journalists of this beautiful land, basing our writing on the truth? Are we revealing to our readers the truth of what is happening or have we become storytellers, writing fiction known as fake news? Are we, the journalists of today, living up to being the prophets of old?