Why a journalist shouldn’t be an office bearer of a community association?

Dated: 25th June, 2016

Only a few days ago, there was a fiery debate in Facebook about who is journalist who is not. Rajwant Singh wanted a debate with Dr Yadu Singh’s view as to why Rajwant is not a journalist.

Many points were mentioned which will make a media person a “non-journalist”. They included a media person promoting political leaders by putting political leaders’ pictures as his/her social media profile pictures or joining a partisan multicultural advisory committee membership. This was directly pointing towards

Indian ethnic community newspaper, Punjab Express’ editor Rajwant Singh, who had posted Julia Gillard’s Picture as his Facebook profile picture a few years ago and had joined Greenway MP, Michelle Rowland’s partisan multicultural advisory committee a few years ago.

There were many more comments in the post in Facebook, but one particular comment was very jarring. It was mentioned that a journalist worth his salt should not join a community association and become an office bearer of a community association.

Being very curious about what this comment was about and what are the details of this comment, I did some research and contacted several responsible and informed members of Indian Australian community in Sydney. To my surprise and amazement, and disappointment, this comment turned out to be correct. It appears that Rajwant Singh, Punjab Express editor, has taken up the position of Joint Secretary of UIA, a community association in Sydney recently. This is very odd and inappropriate. Rajwant is attends many governmental and community meetings as editor of Punjab Express newspaper. His becoming joint secretary of UIA creates a sense of a serious conflict of interest among other community associations, and conflicts with journalistic ethics. An editor basically means journalist and journalists do not have any business to join, forget becoming office bearers, of a community association. Community associations are fiercely competitive and have intense politics among them. This is often non-productive and should be dealt with smartly. Media can play a great and effective role in dealing with non-productive politics among community associations. This, they can do by being honest, neutral and unbiased observers and catalysts, and by supporting the performing associations, and not propping up non-productive and ineffective associations. They need to be above community associations.


Pic courtesy SBS Punjabi Radio
Pic courtesy SBS Punjabi Radio

SBS Punjabi Radio, above link, says “It is a matter of pride that a well know Punjabi community member Rajwant Singh (editor Punjab Express and exec member of Punjabi Council of Australia) is elected for the position of Joint Secretary. MP Singh spoke to Rajwant ji….”

I disagree wholeheartedly with SBS Punjabi Radio’s view on this matter. No, it is not a matter of pride for editor of Punjab Express to join any community association. This is a wrong trend. I ask SBS Punjabi Radio and Rajwant Singh whether they know any true journalist in Australia (SBS, ABC, SMH etc) who works as a journalist and joins any political party, or a community association for that matter, in this blatant way or manner. SBS Punjabi, in my view, is guilty of promoting a wrong trend, and Rajwant Singh is guilty of acting on a wrong phenomenon.

Community journalists and newspapers should keep the interests of the community above their own interests. They profess to serve the community. All this is negated the moment they join the competitive community associations and become office bearers of these associations. Journalism is a noble profession, which unfortunately, has been damaged by entry of some totally undesirable people in Indian community media in Sydney, simply because these undesirable people have no understanding or clues about journalistic ethics, conduct or behaviour. We have been ineffective to deal with such undesirable people amongst us so far.

As a journalist, who had formally trained in journalism and worked in some most prominent newspapers in India, I do think that Indian journalists should not join any community associations and definitely not become office bearers of any of the community associations. I do believe, quite strongly, that Rajwant Singh, should reflect and review his position in UIA, and consider getting out of such undesirable connection with UIA as well as the Punjabi association of which he is an executive member.

Let us keep journalism as professional and objective, and not create a new low.

Ashok Kumar

Editor, The Indian Sub-continent Times


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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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