DTU Times interviewed Saurabh Shukla, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NewsMobile, who was in DTU as a mentor for the Startup Weekend.
2 years ago, you tweeted “Why is it that the young minds are being misinformed?” Can you expand on this statement and its relevance in today’s environment?
In the last few years, fake news has become a global epidemic. Most of the fake news spreads through digital media, and because of its wide consumption, people tend to believe most of it. It's problematic because youngsters are quite malleable. They are very smart, but they fall prey to fake news because they have no means to confirm the news. That’s the reason why I started NewsMobile 5 years ago. The goal was to give people news which is fact checked and credible every time, so that youngsters don’t have to suffer and form opinions based on inaccurate reporting.
The last decade has seen journalists face grave consequences for their crusades in reporting. What are some shortcomings that you, as a journalist, feel in a country as culturally sensitive as India?
While you have to tell stories as they are, you have to keep a few things in mind. I have done my journalism without any fear or bias; I led the campaign against a food scam that led to the resignation of India’s then foreign minister. I’ve even done the Dawood tapes against the biggest criminal of that time. So as far as the story is verified and correct, you should not be shying away from the essence of the story. However, there are times when I have decided not to do a certain story because it impinges on national interest, and that is where your role as a responsible journalist comes in. That is where you should always strike that balance; national interest is always paramount.
A growing number of journalists are known to be affiliated with certain political parties. How does this affect the authenticity of reporting?
I believe that journalists should not be affiliated to any political party. We at NewsMobile have our employees sign an undertaking confirming that they are not a member of any political party, and a lot of other companies do so. You, of course, may have your bias. For example, I write extensively on foreign policy; I support certain initiatives that the PM has taken, but I am also critical about him if there’s a lynching happening. Therefore, I think that at his core, a journalist has to be objective. What every organisation has to do is make them sign an undertaking saying that they are not affiliated with any political party whatsoever, be careful about its integrity and make sure biased journalism is reduced.
As readers, we’re unaware about any affiliations that a reporter might have. Do you have any tips on spotting biased journalism?
Today’s readers are very smart, and they can easily make out if something's biased or not. I constantly tell my young journalists that their readers are the smartest of the lot and they should never even try to fool or outsmart them. However, as a reader, you have to be more aware and participative in order to develop an eye and recognize patterns for what seems legitimate and what doesn’t. It’s a two-way street; if biased journalism starts to get called out more often, it will decrease.