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'Supposed' alternative media, NewsClick, The Wire, only react to issues: Journos claim

By Our Representative 

Speaking at an event, Journalism at Risk: Discussion About Attack on Freedom of Speech and Expression, held at the HKS Surjeet Bhavan, Delhi, several speakers highlighted the need to develop real alternative media amidst “on-going attacks by the Indian state against journalists and independent media.”
Senior journalist Anil Chamadia, pointing towards how a people's journalist stands alone in journey, elaborated on how today legitimacy of a journalist is attached to how big the media house is, which is ironically owned by big corporations. Currently, he noted, media houses create journalistic pieces “which are essentially packages meant for mass consumption”, and which “actively hide the issues of Dalits, Adivasis, etc.”
Regretted Chamadia, this packaged media is “not countered by supposed alternative media, like The Wire or NewsClick, which only react to issues. Instead, a real alternative, which is creative, not reactive should be created. Such media, he argued, should inspire “discourse among masses on pertinent issues...”
Mandeep Punia, a freelance journalist, spoke about the apathy and partisan nature of media, stating, what is dubbed the godi media raises issues which are subservient to a corporate-state nexus. Insisting on the need to promote alternative media, he said, people's journalists should be activist in their approach.
Organised by advocacy group Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), moderator Prof N Sachin, who is with the Delhi University, paid homage to deceased journalist Shashikant Warishe who was murdered recently for reporting against a refinery project in Ratnagiri. He said, journalism is at risk, expressing concern over disappearance of reports on people's issues.
Bhasha Singh, who is with “Newsclick”, highlighted how the Hindutva fascist nature of the state subtly hides the corporate loot of resources and the role of capital. She said, the dominant godi media has crafted narratives that centre around Hindu-Muslim conflicts, ignoring the plight of workers, peasants and the ongoing rampant corporate loot. She highlighted how the conflict in Manipur was similarly crafted to serve the Hindutva project.
Prashant Tandon, a broadcast journalist and media expert, spoke of the need to differentiate between what he called "corporate democracy" and "cosmetic democracy," especially in India, where Article 19 has so-called reasonable restrictions existing in jurisprudence along with acts like UAPA which actively make way for legal curtailment of journalists.
He suggested that India must establish an umbrella law specifically to protect press freedom, adding, USA and European Union, which may not be perfect, offer good points of reference for such a law.
Independent journalist Udey Che said, the issues raised by people's journalists, many of whom operate on social media, don’t have any stable source of income. He regretted Facebook and YouTube are seeking to regulate them.
He stated, there is not much difference between rule of BJP and Congress in terms of press freedom, giving the example of how under the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh hundreds of journalists face charges. He demanded that if people's media has to survive, it must be backed by people. Such media must be established in each city.
Writer, speaker, anchor, interviewer, teacher and commentator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta elaborated on the nature of social media as a weapon of big corporates like Meta and Alphabet behind Facebook and Google which have captured narratives in society. He urged the youth to reduce the entrapments of social media and engage in a critical fight against the new state of emergency in India which has become all pervasive.
Sandeep Rauzi, speaking about the rapid fall of India in Press Freedom Index under the current regime, said, attack on press freedom has become symptom of general curtailment of democratic rights all over India. He narrated how journalist Rupesh Kumar Singh was incarcerated after having a vast body of work dedicated to working class issues.
He wondered why the alternative media has been reduced to a call for defeating BJP. This takes away the introspection of Congress rule which does nothing to curtail capitalism's role in Indian society.
He urged, people's media as well as workers' organisations should set up labour beats to directly report the issues of working classes, on which there is no media discourse. He added, all such journalists should come together and collectively combat the state repression.

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