I feel at home in Odisha: Mark Tully

Bhubaneswar: Veteran British journalist and writer Sir William Mark Tully popularly known as Mark Tully, who has made India his home for over 50 years, was in Odisha capital on Thursday as a speaker at three-day Tata Steel Bhubaneswar Literary Meet (TSBLM) where he had a tete-a-tete with this journalist on a wide range of topics.

Shift in journalistic ethics

No, I don’t think the ethics have changed. I think the ways of doing it have changed; also ease of communication has made a difference as well. The social media have also played an important role. The fundamental ethics of journalism should never change. A journalist’s job is to report accurately in an unbiased way.

Journalism as business

News has always been a business. In Britain, there are great press barons. In India, you had people like Ramnath Goenka who owned The Indian Express. What has changed now is the ownership. The owners are not necessarily people, who understand about press or are pressmen themselves. Goenka was a real journalist. But now, people who have no connection with media own it, which creates problems. Particularly in electronic media, the houses are owned by people having business interest.

Change in news presentation

It is very wrong to make sweeping generalisation because there are excellent organisations, excellent journalists.

Muffling voice of media

I don’t know. I have not come across of any examples of stories being pulled down. There is a widespread feeling that journalism has been in some way muted or curbed. I think, the whole issue is being exaggerated. There is a lot of very good journalism still going on. You just hear or talk about this as another emergency. I lived with the emergency. I can tell you this is not another emergency, nothing like that. Every government tries to bully the press, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.

Social media censorship

Ideally, it should be done. But, I don’t see any way of doing it. Controlling creates more problems. The answer lies with responsible journalistic organisations which are trusted by people. In case of a riot, people instead of buying the rumours, which are always used to provoke the situation, should turn to responsible media houses.

On Odisha

It’s my home in a way because I was born in Calcutta. So, I am from eastern India. We came as children to Puri for winter holidays. In every way I feel at home here.

Odisha as a tourist destination

I think the eastern India has been ignored by tourism industry. That should be put right. The voice of West Bengal and Odisha should be heard much more loudly. When people ask me about holiday destinations in India, I tell them not to go to Rajasthan. There are several beautiful places in eastern India. I recommend them Konark, for instance. Where will you find such a monument like Sun Temple, the history of Jagannath temple in Puri, Temple City Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Odisha needs to get its act together and go all out to sell itself as a tourist destination. It’s a wonderful state.

Concern about Puri   

This historic place is not being taken care of properly. The beaches are getting polluted. The buildings of architectural significance are being pulled down to erect commercial establishments. Environmental violations have been committed and matters have gone up to Green Tribunal. This has to stop. One cannot recreate places of historical significance. Media has to come forward and play a pivotal role in highlighting them.

Message to budding journalists

I don’t really like to give messages because I am not that important a person. It sounds strange coming from someone like me who has become well-known as a journalist. Basically, we should have a sense of humility. We should realise that the story we tell or are telling is someone else’s story, this is not our story. We as journalists tend to say did you see or read or hear my story about…? Actually, we should refrain from using ‘my’.

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