Independent journalism is dead. Long live independent journalism.
Many black nights of reporting, or just prowling the streets of small towns where we work flashed in front of our eyes this week, as the news of bullets pumped into a fellow journalist, a hero, seeped into our skin. We tasted fear like we never had before, returning in the dark on rickshaws to homes and offices in the hearts of towns that did not expect to see us about at those times of the night. Achingly, frustratingly, familiar refrains ranging from, "Why do women need to be out at this ungodly hour" to "Why do you even need to have a job" rained down on our ears like the oppressive heat of a Bundelkhand summer. Refrains that, when extrapolated, eventually reach that place of showing women their place.
This feels only too real, visceral. We feel it in our guts as we question policies, governance, money-laundering, the ugly nexuses that thrive around us.
Gauri Lankesh knew no fear, thumbed her nose at the forces she critiqued, took opposition as a necessarily evil of our times and a pivot around which her work, her words, were organised. It never caused her to pause or change direction. But when her life was brutally ended, we were forced to reconsider our own bravado as we go about our work every day in the badlands of Bundelkhand. Can this really happen? Or is this just a nightmare that we will wake from, and go back to our own version of thumbing our noses at power and bigotry and corruption and injustice? No, this feels only too real, visceral. We feel it in our guts as we question policies, governance, money-laundering, the ugly nexuses that thrive around us.
Something has changed in our lives, in our journalism. We have not lost our fearlessness, but it is tempered now, and extremely sharp around the edges.
We will just have to act accordingly. Our chief reporter takes a moment from doing all of that to remember Gauri Lankesh.