Sameer Showkin Lone
Srinagar | Jan 08: Every other person in Kashmir Valley introduces himself as a journalist on social media and in public and private offices. Though, one doesn’t require any degree to become a journalist, the 10th pass, 12th fail and under graduates who have entered into this profession given the mushroom growth of internet, have made a muck of this profession in Jammu and Kashmir, which is a conflict-torn region between India and Pakistan.
Most of these people don’t have any professional degree in journalism or come from any decent education background. These people even don’t know the basics of journalism. They are mostly 10th pass, 12th fail, under graduates and other failed examples of life who have just one job to keep track on news stories, copy and paste the exclusive stuff under their own byline and publish on their websites, WhatsApp groups. Even some send the links to the officials of the concerned departments or any other related party, for their vested interests. A similar breed of politicians are promoting and patronising them. You will be surprised to know that some of these “flock of goons” masquandering as journalists have got government accommodations, and have influence and reach in every office in both civil and police administration.
From blackmailing contractors, looting and threatening officials to ruining ethics of journalism, they are involved in plagiarism at a large scale. Every exclusive story done by reporters working in some top local media houses, are copied by these bunch of “unprofessional goons”.
Unfortunately, the Information Department of Govt of J&K, which is supposed to act as a watchdog to stop this plagiarism, is promoting this unprofessional flock and many among them have even got Accreditation from the State Information Department.
I will start with my own example. Last year, I did an interview of Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi. I was still in my bed and the interview was copied by these thieves. My then editor Shaheed Shujaat Bukhari, may Allah bless him with highest place in paradise, called me over phone in the wee hours saying … “Sameer few local websites have copied the whole interview and published on their web pages and WhatsApp groups. Can you check with them, what is this happening.”
I have dozens of such stories and so have many other reporters who possess huge certificates of journalism degrees from different journalism schools of the world.
Here are pleas of other talented reporters who work in tough conditions to bring out exclusive and interesting stories, only to be plagiarized later by these goons who have ruined this profession in Kashmir.
Irfan Amin Malik, who works as a staff reporter with Greater Kashmir shares his plea on Facebook.
“Everytime I write or my colleagues write, some senseless people steal our stories and post them on different web portals like Valley News Service, Kashmir Today, Kashmir Viewer and bla bla bla. This not only is plagiarism but a serious crime. We put our blood and sweat together to bring exclusive stuff for our readers but unfortunately some unprofessional people play cheap copy-pasting. Today I am uploading some screenshots in the comment list which would help us to expose them. You are also requested to share this post so that it will reach to the concerned.
I am not the only victim but many of my colleagues and friends have faced this problem.
The worst part of the whole story is that when these people are asked about the copy-pasting, their response is not only low but stupid.
On December 25th last year I did a story titled, Tral: An encounter through the eyes of slain militant’s father. This story was again copy-pasted by VNS and even the byline was changed from Greater Kashmir or Irfan Amin Malik to some Rayees Veeri.
Our bureau chief called Veeri and he replied,” Mujhe saath saal ki experience hai. Main abhi change karonga.” When the guy faced criticism he attributed the story to Greater Kashmir. Same thing happened today as my another story titled: 22 year old Hamaad emerges as new face of Hizb in Tral was illegally posted by VNS.
In another case my senior colleague, Khalid Gul faced the situation regularly. “Whenever I write some people steal my work so quickly. Regarding this I called one admin recently who arrogantly said he won’t stop doing this,”said Khalid.
Lastly I request our media fraternity in J&K to get united under one umbrella and fight against this plagiarism. We can make one voice to move forward.”
The mushrooming growth of social media and easy internet access has encouraged these so-called journalists to start their own websites, create logo mics, hundreds of WhatsApp groups. They go and interview every person who comes in their way.
The administration of Jammu and Kashmir is directly blamed for letting loose its hands on them.
Few senior journalists and other responsible nitizens have also expressed concern over this sad state of affairs.
Gowhar Geelani “Not only exclusive stories, investigative reportage, interviews etc, even status updates are stolen. This unethical breach has to stop. First step is to identify the habitual offenders.”
Naik Asif Iqbal “Sabke Saath yahi haal hai . Kamse Kam courtesy Tu likhtae.”
Altaf Baba “They r called ‘Social media thieves’. Path kaali eas Chooran hind photo asaan thanas manz awaizan. Yelli choor gasihey yeman eas anan ratith. aazi chi yehinz Taidad bademich, keetehan anan ratith. Keh chi creat aamith karni ti keh chi hang mangee gamith creat.”
Mir Irfan “Such acts are carried by non professional elements which needs to be stopped.”
This has not only brought disrepute to this noble profession, but has disillusioned the professionals who study in colleges, universities for years together to get a degree and aspire to become journalists.
When they come out of colleges and universities with degrees in hands, they get to see a new breed of non-professionals, whose acts and actions only discourage the professional lot.
(The author is presently working as Aspirational District Fellow with Govt of India.)