Skip to main content

Politicians, land sharks, smugglers, even murderers 'seen hand-in-glove with journalists'

By Nava J Thakuria* 

Can the mainstream newspapers and satellite news channels be compelled to make their annual balance sheets public in India? Or will it be possible to ask the professional journalists to go for self-declarations about their assets so that they can question the financial integrity of individuals in other professions including in politics?
As the Union information and broadcasting ministry in New Delhi has taken initiatives to review the guidelines for working journalists’ welfare schemes, a northeast India based scribes’ body has urged the mainstream media houses and seasoned journalists of the country to display transparency in their financial transactions to qualify for such benefits.
Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA), in a recent media statement, opined that the professional media houses should show their financial balance-sheets describing how much money they spent annually for the benefits of their regular employees, including the working journalists.
At the same time the so-called rich and glamorous journalists should reveal their assets (along with liabilities) as they demand transparencies from employees in other sectors. It becomes necessary to reduce the erosion in goodwill from their valued readers, listeners and viewers before it’s too late, asserted the forum.
Mentionable is that the I&B ministry (under the Government of India) decided to have a look at the existing guidelines of various journo-welfare schemes and get appropriate recommendations for the required changes. The changing media scenario has made it necessary to redefine the professional guidelines of journalists, who are duly engaged with both traditional and modern/digital media outlets.
The review committee is expected to maintain parity between the government accredited (recognized) and non-recognized scribes, as the acknowledgement rules may vary from one State to another. For any reason an accredited journalist should not be considered as an elite, because the status could be altered abruptly with the change in the professional portfolio.
Headed by renowned journalist Ashok Kumar Tandon, the committee comprises senior scribes Sachidanand Murthy, Shekhar Aiyar, Amitabh Sinha, Shishir Kumar Sinha, Ravinder Kumar, Hitesh Shankar, Smriti K Ramachandran, Amit Kumar, Vasudha Venugopal along with Kanchan Prasad from Press Information Bureau as its members and it is expected to submit the report within two months.
According to the government-run Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), the country with one billion plus population has over 1,15,000 registered publications with more than 17,500 in the newspaper category. Those are published in different languages including English, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannadi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Odia, Assamese, etc.
Largest democracy of the world has over 1,600 satellite television channels where more than 400 are news related outlets. At the same time, over 300 million Indians use social media in different categories. Lately many professional Indian journalists have abandoned the mainstream media (where many of them were sacked by the managements) and joined the digital platforms to exercise the freedom of expression guaranteed by the country’s constitution.
It's a common sight to find posh cars with ‘Press’ stickers on front windshield driven by unscrupulous fraudsters masquerading as journalists
“We need to discuss on the importance of digital (alternate) media urgently and if the journalists engaged with those outlets could be recognized as working journalists enabling them to receive all kinds of legitimate government benefits,” said JFA president Rupam Barua, adding that the professional journalists should establish their integrity first as an exemplary manner.
Earlier, the forum commended the concern expressed by the Madras High Court in a recent directive to Tamil Nadu government to constitute a press council so that the menace of fake news/journalists can be legally addressed. The court ordered the State government in Chennai to form ‘Press Council of Tamil Nadu’ within three months to eliminate the bogus journalists from the media fraternity.
The court observed that it becomes a common sight these days to find posh cars with ‘Press’ stickers on the front windshield being driven by unscrupulous fraudsters masquerading as working journalists. There have been quite a number of instances of such fraudsters being booked by the police. Politicians, land sharks, smugglers and even murderers have been seen to be hand in glove with these journalists.
The State directorate of information and public relations is aware of this, but the officials turn a blind eye, to avoid any wrath in the hands of those fake journalists. This needs to be stopped to ensure that journalism remains clean and strong. In view of the above position, necessary directions have to be issued to clean up the media in the interest of public, added the court observation.
The court even asked the government to avoid allotting any house or grant directly to any applicant journalists unless it is routed through the council to be constituted, which after due diligence can issue such benefits. It shall prohibit conduct of State conferences or meetings by journalist’s associations without permission or approval from the council, which shall get details on the source of income and other relevant details before giving permission to them.
Common people aggrieved by fake news or motivated and agenda-based news can send their complaints on fake journalists to the welfare board, which shall inquire and initiate criminal action against such scribes as they are simply a menace and threat to the society. The council is proposed to have the power to direct the carrier of offending news items for a rejoinder or an apology urgently.
---
*Senior journalist based in Guwahati

Comments

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

August 9 to be observed as Corporates Quit India day: Top farmers' group

By Our Representative A recent general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the top farmers' organisation, stated hat "there is no need for any illusion of change in the pro-corporate policies of the BJP-NDA government" following the recent elections in which BJP failed to achieve even simple majority. It insisted,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is hell bent" to continue 'business as usual' policies.

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Belgian report alleges MNC Etex responsible for asbestos pollution in Madhya Pradesh town Kymore: COP's Geneva meet

By Our Representative A comprehensive Belgian report has held MNC Etex , into construction business and one of the richest, responsible for asbestos pollution in Kymore, an industrial town in in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh. The report provides evidence from the ground on how Kymore’s dust even today is “annoying… it creeps into your clothes, you have to cough it”, saying “It can be deadly.”

Women's emancipated under Mao: Girl completed primary school, began working in farm collective

By Harsh Thakor*  The book “New Women in New China”, a collection of articles projecting dramatic transformation -- political and economic -- in the status of Chinese women after liberation, originally published in 1972, and reprinted in 2023 by the Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, encompasses the period between 1949 and 1972, seeking to give justice to the subject of women’s emancipation in China after the 1949 revolution.