Journalism Without Fear or Favour”. greets on the day G.Kishan Reddy mos of home affairs GOI.
World Press Freedom Day preaches safety of journalists, their independence from political or commercial influence, and gender equality in all aspects of the media under the theme “Journalism Without Fear or Favour”. greets on the day G.Kishan Reddy mos of home affairs GOI.
Measures which may develop a safe and free environment for Press
India is the founding member of Community of Democracies, which has taken a pledge to uphold the freedom of speech and expression; freedom of the press; and freedom of transparency as core principles. Considering ‘Media as Fourth pillar of its State’, India should be in the forefront in safeguarding its media and promoting press freedom on the international stage.
However, the ground practices are way far different from what we as a nation had ever dreamt off. A report called ‘Getting Away with Murder’ by journalists Geeta Seshu and Urvashi Sarkar highlight heinous attacks on journalists in the last five years. At least 198 serious attacks were recorded on reporters between 2014 to 2019, and of these, 36 happened in 2019 alone. Six of these happened during the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which came into effect from December 2019.
Various other media watch groups such as National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have also revealed the shocking data, listing 40 journalists being killed, of which 27 murdered in direct retaliation for their work since 1992. CPJ even states that “Indian journalists tend to devalue the attacks on themselves as a community and fail to speak out in one voice”.
These reports show how slowly cases linked with the attack on media workers move forward, and especially when the media coverage dies down.
The self-defeating fragmentation and polarisation in the media fraternity have resulted in the lack of cohesive reply to such attacks. For this matter, the inbuilt discriminations and social and economic limitations within the media industry need to be resolved. A system free from biases, prejudices and socio-political chauvinism, where information is collected and documented with better coordination, needs to be built.
This may possibly develop a unified, cohesive and purposive response to attacks on journalists. The security of journalists is not only their own responsibility but the government’s too. The government and police need to act more fairly and quickly. The unsolved murder cases need to be pushed through the courts faster so that the killers are brought to justice. There is a need to check the politicians’ supporters, the role of vigilante groups and of emboldened student groups who target journalists and systematically hound and seek to muzzle them.
India as a whole needs to uphold its commitment to the democratic principles and establish a national-level journalist safety mechanism in order to combat impunity. A failure to do so won’t just endanger fellow journalists, but journalism itself.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day calls to do the same under the theme “Journalism Without Fear or Favour.” It preaches awareness on specific issues about the safety of journalists, their independence from political or commercial influence, and gender equality in all aspects of the