Journalism should not be only a business


Osho replies to a question by Samir Jain, son of Indu Jain, Times of India.

Osho in garden

Beloved Osho,

For a commercial organization, marketing is the ultimate life source; however, some marketing professionals suffer from an element of contradiction in their personal lives. Vis-a-vis professional objectives, are we selling things to people that they don’t need?

Samir, the question is a little complex – complex because in a way you are selling people what they need… but whether their need is sick or healthy is a totally different matter.

You are fulfilling people’s sick needs. And that should be felt as a responsibility. Needs have to be fulfilled, but you have to learn a great discrimination: what are the sick needs, and what are the healthy needs?

For example, pornography is a need. And millions of people are providing pornographic literature, photography, all kinds of pornographic films, blue films. They certainly are fulfilling a need – people have been so repressed sexually for centuries that they are hungry to see the naked woman. Certainly your business prospers, but you are depending on a very ugly exploitation of people.

The responsibility of the journalist is great: he has to make people aware – why do they need pornography? In an aboriginal tribe, nobody is interested in pornographic literature because people are almost naked; they don’t have any clothes. From the very childhood, the boys and the girls become aware of each other’s bodies, it is a natural acquaintance. They never become peeping Toms. And they will not be interested in magazines like Playboy. But in our so-called civilized society, people are hiding Playboys in the Shrimad Bhagavadgita, in the Holy Bible, because that is the safest place to hide anything; nobody opens it. Who bothers to look into the Holy Bible, or the Shrimad Bhagavadgita?

I have heard about a man who was a salesman of encyclopedias, a door-to-door salesman. He knocked at the door, a woman opened it and as he started his sales talk the woman said, “We already have a good encyclopedia; we don’t need any. You can see: there in the corner on the table is the encyclopedia. So please forgive me, I am not interested.”

The man said, “I can say definitely, that is not an encyclopedia; it is a Bible.”

The woman said, “You seem to be a strange man – how can you say that so categorically?”

He said, “Because so much dust has gathered on it, nobody opens it.” Encyclopedias are opened, people look into them, but who looks into Bibles? And he said, “I am ready to bet.”

The woman said, “No there is no question, it is a Bible; just forgive me for telling you a lie.”
Just the layer of dust was so thick, it was enough proof that it was not an encyclopedia but something holy. People are hiding all kinds of ugly things in holy Bibles, holy Gitas, holy Korans.

The need is to make society aware that any kind of repression is against nature, to create a climate where what is natural is accepted, not denied. On the one hand, you will deny what is natural; then from some other door, your natural instinct will demand its satisfaction. That becomes a perverted need. In a very strange way, your so-called saints and your pornographers are in a conspiracy; they are both partners in the same business.

The saints go on telling people to repress sex, to be celibate. And these repressed people are hungry – you know if you have ever fasted, then the whole day you are thinking only about food and nothing else. You never think about food – every day you eat whatever you feel like eating and whatever your need is. You don’t think about it, you don’t dream about it, you don’t need some pornography, some delicious dishes to look at. But I know people who have been on a fast… then their whole thinking becomes concentrated on food. They dream about delicious food; if you take them out in the market, they only see food stores, restaurants, hotels. They don’t see anything else; nothing else is attractive.

It has been found in psychological experiments that if a man is kept for three weeks on a fast, he loses interest in seeing a pornographic picture. He would rather see a picture of a beautiful dish. It is not strange that people call women “beautiful dishes.” It is humiliating, ugly, but somehow sex is also a hunger, as any other hunger is.

The problem becomes complex because people need pornography – if you provide pornography, you sell, you earn. If you don’t provide it, the circulation of your newspaper or your magazine drops. You are in a very difficult dilemma: either you lose business or you have to do something which is absolutely ugly.

Unless the whole situation changes, unless the whole news media becomes aware of the fact, of why people are interested in pornography… They should start creating an atmosphere – with articles, with stories, with poetry, with films, with television, with radio – that repression is anti-life. The day there is no repression in the world, there will be no need of pornography. The day there is no repression in the world, there will be no perversion, there will be no homosexuality, there will be no lesbianism.

And journalism has to become aware of the complexity of the situation. For example, now there is a great disease spreading all over the world – AIDS. It has come out of homosexuality. And the Catholic pope and other heads of religions are condemning homosexuality, but homosexuality is only a symptom. The real disease is the teaching of celibacy – because homosexuality was born in the monasteries, in soldier’s camps, in boy scouts living together, in the hostels of boys and girls, which we have separated. Wherever we have separated man and woman, some kind of perversion arises. […]

Don’t fulfill sick needs. Expose the fact that those sick needs are arising from a certain source. And create a protest in the minds of people so that the sources can be stopped. You cannot fight with the sick needs if the sources are not dropped. On the one hand you go on supporting the sources, and on the other hand you want people to drop their sick needs, which is impossible.

The fire and brimstone fundamentalist was ranting and raving before his congregation. “Praise the Lord, I know there are those among you who have committed the unspeakable sin of he-ing and she-ing. Stand up and repent!” Three-quarters of the congregation stood up.

“And there are those among you,” continued the preacher, “who have committed that double sin of sins, he-ing and he-ing. Stand up and repent!” The rest of the men stood up.

“And I know there are those among you who have committed the triple sin, she-ing and she-ing. Stand up and repent!” The remaining women all stood up. No one was left sitting except one little boy with a puzzled look on his face.

“Preacher,” he cried, “I would like to know where you stand on me-ing and me-ing?”

But this is the situation your religions have created. There is a great need for all these bogus, unscientific, unpsychological doctrines to be exposed to the public, and the public should be made aware to live a natural and healthy life, accepting whatever the need of the body is as a natural gift. Then only is there a possibility that we will be able not to exploit people’s sick needs… because there will be no sick needs at all.

Journalism should not be only a business; it should also be a great responsibility towards humanity. It is no ordinary business, it cannot look only for profits. You have many other businesses for profit – at least don’t corrupt journalism for the sake of profit. Journalism should be ready to sacrifice its profits; only then can it avoid fulfilling people’s sick needs, and expose their original and basic causes – which can be removed.

Journalism should be a revolution, not just a profession. A journalist is basically a rebellious person – who wants the world to be a little better, who is basically a fighter – and he has to fight for right causes. I never look at journalism as just another profession. For profit, you have so many professions available; at least something should be left uncorrupted by the profit motive. Only then is there a possibility that you can educate people: educate them for a rebellious attitude against all that is wrong, educate them against anything that causes perversions.

One thing more I would like to remind you of. Life is not just a bed of roses, there are thorns too. But there is no need to make too much fuss about thorns. By making too much fuss about thorns, you slowly start forgetting about roses.

Journalism and other news media are a new phenomenon in the world. There was nothing like that in the times of Gautam Buddha or Jesus. That is one of the reasons that people go on bragging that the days of old were very beautiful. Hindu chauvinists go on saying that in the times of Gautam Buddha, people had no need to lock their doors. Their argument is that there was no stealing – but that is sheer stupidity, because Gautam Buddha preached every day for forty-two years against stealing. Do you think he was mad? If there was no stealing, to whom was he preaching, “Don’t steal, don’t lie”? All the teachings of all the old saints are against lying, against stealing, against adultery. You will not find anything new in the world that was not there before – you just have to look into their preaching.

If there were no locks, it is not because there were no thieves; in fact, there were no locks! And there was nothing to be locked, people were so poor. The lock is a certain stage of technology that was not there… and you have to have something to lock. You don’t even have food for two meals a day – what are you going to lock?

It happened in Bengal in this century: Mahatma Gandhi was going on his tour towards Noachali, and a woman came and touched his feet and said, “Just wait a minute. My husband wants to touch your feet.” So Mahatma Gandhi said, “But why has he not come with you?”

She said, “Don’t make us embarrassed. We have only one good set of clothes, so I have come; now I will go and give the clothes to him and he will come. He’s standing naked in the house.”

This is in the twentieth century! We don’t know about things that were happening which were evil in those times because there was no news media. The existence of news media has brought a very new thing – because everything evil, everything bad, everything negative, whether true or untrue, is sensational; it sells. People are interested in rapes, in murders, in briberies, in all kinds of criminal acts, riots. And because people are asking for all this news, you go on collecting all the wrong that is happening in the world. The roses are completely forgotten; only thorns are remembered – and exaggerated. And if you cannot find, you invent, because your whole problem is how to sell.

The same or even worse was the situation in the past, but people never came to know about it. They always knew about what can be called the “good news” because scriptures were written not about thieves, not about murderers, but about saints and their statements. That was the only literature. Journalism has brought the possibility of making saints out of criminals. […]

Last year a California university did a survey: after each boxing match, after each football match, the crime rate suddenly goes fourteen percent higher, and it remains fourteen percent higher for seven to ten days – then slowly it tapers down. But the government is not interested in preventing a barbarous thing like boxing – which is absolutely inhuman, and definitely inhuman to those two persons who are fighting. It creates in the whole state of California fourteen percent more crimes: more murders, more rapes. Strange… still boxing continues, football matches continue. And the news media goes on reporting all these things. If the news media is alert, it should stop all commentaries on football matches, boxing – let them happen, but don’t make so much fuss about them that the whole country becomes involved. They will die out by themselves.

The news media has to learn to boycott a few things which are creative of crimes, of inhumanity to human beings. But rather than boycotting them, you are flourishing, profiting from them, making your sales bigger and bigger, your circulation more and more, without ever giving a single thought to what the ultimate consequence is.

The old economics had the idea that wherever there is a need, there will be a supply. But the latest research shows that wherever there is a supply, slowly slowly the need is also created. For example, nobody needed a car five hundred years ago, nobody needed airplanes, nobody needed the railway. […]

Journalism not only has to look to fulfill the needs of the people, it has to create healthy supplies – which will create needs in people. That old law of economics is out of date … and that is the whole secret of advertisement. Why do people advertise? Particularly in America – the product will come two years afterwards, and advertisement starts two years before. They are simply making people aware of something which is coming into the market. The supply is first, and the supply is creating the need; hence, great advertisements are needed.

You can create better needs, healthy needs. You are not compelled to fulfill the sick needs of people. Fulfilling their sick needs is really committing a great crime.

But I have been around the world, and I have been puzzled that the so-called news media, if it cannot find something negative, invents it. All kinds of lies are invented. It never talks about anything beautiful, anything great. It does not create the idea in people that we are progressing, that we are evolving, that a better humanity is ahead. It only gives the idea that the night is going to be darker and darker.

And looking at your newspapers, your radio broadcasts, your television, your film, it seems that there is no way of going in any other direction than towards hell. Just in California alone… school kids are taking drugs – six year olds, eight year olds. Those days when there were hippies are gone – hippies have disappeared. Hippies were at least adult: twenty-one years, twenty-two, up to thirty. They are gone, they are no more. Now it is small school kids. There have been cases of murder by thirteen and fourteen-year-old boys, and there have been cases of rape by fourteen, fifteen-year-old boys. How does all this get into their minds? They see the films, and particularly the films that are prohibited to them – that prohibition becomes an invitation. They see in the news every day what is happening in the world.

In America alone, surveys show that every person is watching television for an average of seven hours every day – just glued to the chair for seven hours. And what is he watching? Murder, rape, robbery… slowly, slowly it gets into his head. He starts thinking, “This is all that is happening in the world; I’m just a fool who still goes to the church!” He never sees anybody praying, he never sees anybody meditating; he only sees people who are raping, people who are murdering: “Something must be wrong with me, I’m something abnormal. Normal people are doing normal things; all that I am doing is just being glued to the chair and watching television. Something has to be done.” And slowly, slowly his mind is conditioned by all the input of the news media.

A healthy news media is a great need. And if you feel that perhaps this is not the need of the people, then create the need; create a beautiful supply. I don’t think that there are not people who are going to be interested in the good side of life.

Don’t take the attitude of a pessimist. There are people who are interested in the good side, there are people who are interested in the roses, there are people who are interested in all that is great in man. Bring it out; make everybody feel that if he is not doing something good, he is sick, abnormal. Right now just the opposite is the case.

Osho, The New Dawn, Ch 19, Q 3 (excerpt)

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