No seriously, people mailing me Press Releases with massive powerpoint attachments explaining something or the other is just one problem, another, more serious one is running into a failed journalist in the 40-60 age group. These individuals who did not either become senior editors, members of parliament/diplomats/lobbyists or out and out politicians, TV stars or set up their own media schools (in some cases, before someone politely points it out to me, all three categories) are seen at some dinner parties where there is free (but usually always cheap-ass distilled molasses passing off as) whiskey and constantly whine about the depths of depravity that Indian journalism has fallen to.
Listen, I do not for second doubt that Indian journalism is in need of serious help, but on the whole, and I must stress the words 'on the whole', the quality of journalism and journalists has improved dramatically from the stuff in the 80's and 90's and is a far cry from the government sponsored drivel we read in the 60's and 70's. The last two decades gave us some fine journalists, and I am rather proud of being a second-generation journalist (more hints, if you have to mistake my identity, don't mistake me for an incompetent driver) but journalism today is braver and more competent, though sometimes takes some issues to the edge of reason (the Sanjeev Nanda case on NDTV for example). Don't get me wrong, there are still examples of incompetence all over the media and instead of government perks, the media is riddled with stories of corporate freebies - there is the recent case of the retail correspondent of a pink paper who goes shopping for free, not that the newspaper concerned has much in the way of ethics either.
Yet, everything said, the media in 2007 is far, far more inclusive, though it is still accused of being elitist, than it was in 1997. It is not a clique of former students from Stephen's and Presidency. Heck, when I look around, I am one of very few Stephanians from my vintage in the print media. And even though one TV network in particular is attacked for being an old-boys club, even that network has been forced to become more inclusive.
Sure, the media still does have rotten apples and you could argue that the number of bad apples has gone up considerably particularly in the local language television media, and I've had the misfortune of meeting some of them, but the yield of the apple crop has improved as well. The only problem that journalism will face is that some of those who lament the loss of the good old days teach in media schools and media schools themselves have not understood what the internet is all about.