Media’s role in changing times highlighted

National Press Day celebrated

ITANAGAR, Nov 17: The pivotal role that the media has to play in today’s society, and the relevance of the print media in the world of advanced information technology were some of the topics discussed by the guest speakers and invitees during the National Press Day celebration at the state banquet hall here on Friday.
National Press Day (NPD) is celebrated every year on 16 November to symbolize and promote a free and responsible press in India. It was on this day in the year 1966 that the Press Council of India started functioning as a moral watchdog to ensure that not only did the press maintain the high standards expected from this powerful medium but also that it was not fettered by the influence or threats of any extraneous factors.
“Good journalism is good, whether in print or online. You (journalists) are in a position where your articles, your stories, and especially your determination can make positive impacts in the society. You have to be the change, as it is you who can change the world,” said Information & Public Relations (IPR) Minister Bamang Felix, who attended the celebration as the chief guest.
Highlighting the important role that the media has to play in Arunachal, Felix called upon the press community to bridge the transition gap between the old and the new generations and enlighten the masses on the reforms and advancements of the government, as well all of individual achievers.
Assuring all-out support from his ministry, Felix announced that the government would soon form a policy for the electronic media of the state, and informed that a committee headed by the IPR director has already been formed in this regard.
The minister also announced that only mass communication students or those having a degree in mass communication would henceforth be recruited to fill the vacancies for district IPR officers (DIPRO) and public relations officers (PRO).
Responding to a joint memorandum submitted by the Arunachal Press Club (APC), the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) and the Arunachal Electronic Media Association (AEMA) with regard to enactment of the Working Journalists’ Protection Act, introduction of a pension scheme for the working journalists, etc, Felix assured that the policy decisions that have to be taken with regard to the representation would be approved, and that the representation related to funds would be pondered upon.
Felix also announced that the fund for celebration of the National Press Day, including for the CM’s running trophy debate competition, has been enhanced from Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 15 lakhs by the state government.
The minister also conveyed greetings to the press community on behalf of Chief Minister Pema Khandu, who was in Tawang and could not make it to the event due to inclement weather.
He said the chief minister was according top priority to address the problems and predicaments of the state’s media community, and added that the state government has, in fact, addressed most of the genuine grievances of the media.
Speaking as the guest of honour, Rajiv Gandhi University Vice Chancellor Prof Saket Kushwaha spoke about the role that the society has to play to support the journalists.
Congratulating the media community on the occasion, he said that such celebrations should also be gainfully used for the welfare of the society and in guiding it and the nation at large.
Government spokesman and Mechuka MLA Passang Dorjee Sona called upon the journalists to work hard and give their best while reporting stories and news for the people, while IPR Special Secretary Himanshu Gupta highlighted the importance of the day and urged the journalists to be the gatekeepers of the society.
In his keynote address, Karma Paljor, Editor-in-Chief of East Mojo, said the media was living in “interesting times” with the growth of the social media and other forms of communication, and asked the media persons to work hard to adapt themselves to the fast-changing media scenario in the world.
He said the media was in “a huge mess” as, thanks to the growth of smart phones, virtually anybody can become a reporter or a photojournalist.
Saying that the spurt of fake news on the social media was a matter of great concern, Paljor advised young journalists to be vigilant. He also said a strong civil society was sine qua non to make the media more effective.
Earlier, in his welcome address, APUWJ President Amar Sangno said Arunachal Pradesh is one of the few states in the country that celebrates the National Press Day seriously.
“National Press Day gives the media community an opportunity to bond with each other, share their stories and debate on issues that concern the media in today’s date. The journalism profession was like a forbidden apple in Arunachal a decade ago; however, we now have more than 70 working journalists among us and the number is ever increasing,” said Sangno.
He outlined the fundamental responsibilities of the press and journalists in disseminating information to the society. Expressing concern over the rise of fake journalists and fake news, Sangno said, “Selling information with malicious intent is a grave threat to democracy and journalism.”
He also pointed out the difficulties the media persons face in the state, and sought support and cooperation from the public, civil society groups, student organizations and the government, so that the freedom of the press is maintained.
“The civil society organizations and student organisations, who are supposed to be defenders of freedom of speech and expression are, paradoxically, impediments to the freedom of the press in Arunachal,” Sangno said, adding that there are several issues which the press is tacitly forbidden from reporting.
Senior journalist Pradeep Kumar Behera, AEMA President Mukul Pathak and NPD chairman Taba Ajum also spoke.
The chief guests and other dignitaries later gave away the prizes to the winners of the Chief Minister’s running trophy debate competition and the V Ravindran Memorial Excellence in Journalism awards.
Besides the journalists of the state, Capital Complex Deputy Commissioner Prince Dhawan, SP M Harsha Vardhan, IPR Director Obang Tayeng, APC President Chopa Cheda, officers from government departments, students from Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal University of Studies (Namsai), Doimukh Government College and St Claret’s College (Ziro), and members of various student organizations were present on the occasion.
The daylong celebration was organized by the APC, the APUWJ and the AEMA in collaboration with the information & public relations department.