Pragjyotish Barta, Guwahati, 16 November 20ঃঃ On the eve of National Press Day (on 16 November), Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) appeals to every professional journalist in India to get united for the cause of truthful journalism and avoid personal interest in deliberating views so that it cannot return as a trap to oneself in the days to come.
The forum of scribes, while expressing serious concern over the way Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was picked up by the Mumbai Police (nonetheless it is not first of its kind in India) apparently for a closed case against him, appeals to everyone in the media not to justify the unusual police actions.
“JFA is not advocating impunity to Arnab Goswami as it believes that the law should take its own course. But for any reason, political vendettas must not influence the actions against a vocal journalist who might have sizable supports bases among the audience,” said a statement from the forum.
It strongly denounces the argument that Goswami was hurriedly arrested following the old case of abetting an individual for suicide and not as a journalist. This logic is nothing but a hypocritical argument and also creates a trap for everyone in the profession, because the same logic could be used in the future to arrest any journalist by the political forces in power.
The forum believes that journalists are not above the law and if they are found guilty of any offence they have to face legal consequences. Standing rock solid behind this belief, the JFA argues that if journalists are arrested for political vendetta and that too on the pretext of pursuing an old case or even opening new proceedings, then journalists must speak out and ensure that these acts of fascist tendencies against the institution of free media is called out so that rights to free speech and professional duties of a scribe is never curtailed.
At the same time, the forum of active journalists based in northeast India opines that the professional journalists irrespective of his/her place of work like newspapers, news agencies, news channels, digital platforms, etc, including independent scribes (whose principal evocation is journalism), should come under one common media guiding body or authority so that all of them can enjoy similar rights & liberties under the same guidelines.
Hence it emphasizes on empowering Press Council of India (PCI) with the inclusion of news channels and digital platforms under its ambit. The general belief among many in the television media that satellite news channels are more rewarding, glamorous and are influential is bereft of rationale and has no merit as it would only continue to divide the Indian media fraternity and create more harm for itself and other members of the media, than any good.
Finally the forum urges the Union government in New Delhi to formulate policies for enhancing PCI to Media Council of India with the modification of Working Journalists Act at the earliest. Moreover, it requests the professional journalists engaged in news-channels and digital platforms of India to come forward and ask for their due space in the new-found council as well.