‘Perhaps, it is time for missionary journalists’

In a week in which the Hindustan Times front-paged the story of children eating silica-laced mud not far from Allahabad, and 76 soldiers were ambushed by Maoists in poverty-stricken Dantewada, the former Sunday magazine and India Today correspondent Madhu Jain laments the loss of “missionary journalism” in her DNA column.

“The words of my boss still rankle, decades later. ‘Look, forget all this missionary journalism. Nobody likes to read about poverty.’

“There was a major drought going on that summer in Rajasthan. I had just returned to Delhi after over a week in the remotest corners of the state—barely a stone’s throw from the Pakistan border— on the trail of famine deaths.

“The government of the day was almost going blue in the face denying famine deaths. But I had found several such incidents, mostly children who had died after successive years of malnutrition — heart-rending stories, each one of them. Yet, nobody seemed interested. My story didn’t make the cover….

“Poverty is also not a sexy issue for the media — most of the time that is. These days they are mired in the hullabaloo over Sania-and-Shoaib. They are obsessed by the IPL, Indian billionaires, the clichés of India Shining. And, of course, the Page 3 syndrome and the most trivial of pursuits of the inhabitants of Bollywood.”

Read the full article: A call for missionary journalism

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