ITANAGAR, Nov 17: The role of the media in creating and shaping public opinion, and the responsibility of media persons as watchdogs of the society were highlighted in detail during the National Press Day celebration here on Monday.
The event was organized by the Arunachal Press Club (APC), the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), the Arunachal Electronic and Digital Media Association (AEDMA) and the directorate of information & public relations.
Addressing the gathering of journalists from across the state, APUWJ president Amar Sangno called upon the media comrades to reaffirm to preserve, protect and defend the freedom of the press and uphold the highest standards of journalism.
Sangno said that, as the world at present is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, the road ahead would be tough for the journalists.
“We all have seen and experienced one of the darkest chapters of human history in the millennium. I salute those comrades who have been reporting fearlessly, risking their lives and of their loved ones during the Covid-19 lockdown alongside other frontline workers to disseminate, correct, unbiased and credible information to the masses,” he said.
The APUWJ president also raised concern over the mushrooming of digital and social media platforms.
“Though the International Federation of Journalists – the largest working journalist’s organization in the world – advocates the growth of independent digital media to make democracy vibrant and strong, the mushrooming of digital and social media platforms is a threat to principled and ethical media houses,” he said.
Sangno said these media organizations are neither obliged to the fundamental principles of journalism, nor do they follow the basic journalistic ethics, thus jeopardizing the noble profession.
Sangno on behalf of the state’s media community expressed gratitude to the Pema Khandu-led government for its constant support and cooperation for the healthy growth of the media in the state. He also said that the passing of the Arunachal Electronic Media Advertisement Policy, 2020, by the state government would help the proprietors of digital and electronic media houses ensure quality journalism and also provide jobs and personal security to working journalists and other employees.
Sangno also called upon the state government to come up with a special “journalists’ protection act” to ensure the safety of working journalists in the state.
He further called upon the authorities concerned to “end impunity for crime against journalists across the state and country.”
Several other plights of the state’s scribes with regard to their remuneration, job security, etc, were also highlighted by the APUWJ president.
Speaking as one of the resource persons of the workshop themed ‘Words, visuals and its impact on journalistic content’ that followed, Rajiv Gandhi University’s Mass Communication Head Moji Riba called upon the media persons to be earnest.
Speaking on the topic, ‘So why am I in the media?’ Riba said the challenges and responsibilities of journalists have grown bigger in today’s world “and they need to introspect their purpose of being in the field of journalism and the values they hold for themselves and the profession.”
“You are responsible for your work as documenting and reporting stories is ‘bearing honourable witness to history’. So, journalists must make sure that they build the relationship of trust with their audience by providing the correct information,” Riba said.
He said what a journalist writes and shows shapes the vision of the audience, and therefore there are consequences for the same.
“We are accountable for our work, so we must also be ready to face disapprovals and questions,” he added.
Riba also lauded the journalists and the media houses for the role they played during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At a time when the entire world was at a standstill, our media did not shut down. Putting their own lives at risk, the media persons have played an important role in educating people and helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic. This is the power of what to do and what we want to do,” he said.
Deputy editor of The Arunachal Times, Tongam Rina said “laying out the facts” should be more important for a journalist while telling their stories.
Rina, who was speaking on the topic ‘Contextualizing facts in the news’ said “fact is always out there for one who finds it, and all one needs to do is make an effort.”
“A journalist should better chase facts than work on meeting deadlines,” she said, and called upon the media persons to stay away from giving opinions in their reports.
Speaking on the topic ‘Blurring the lines between journalism and content creation’, senior journalist Mukul Pathak called upon his juniors to always follow the path of truth, accuracy, humility and accountability, and to be fair and impartial in what they write and show.
“You are accountable for your work, so you should be able to take responsibility if there are discrepancies. Also, be open to feedback and criticisms,” he said.
Pathak said there is a thin line between journalism and content creation as there are certain guidelines to be followed in the former.
He also urged his media comrades to stay away from being activists.
IPR Deputy Director Denhang Bosai, speaking on the topic ‘Challenges of government media’, spoke of the issues the district IPR officers (DIPRO) face while carrying out their duties due to connectivity issues.
He, however, thanked the media persons of the state for their coordination and support with regard to disseminating information on several developmental aspects of the government.
“We can coordinate and work together as we are in the same boat,” Bosai said.
Earlier, the event saw additional PRO to the chief minister, Rup Jyoti Pater read out a self-composed eulogy on veteran journalist late Taro Chatung, who passed away a year ago.
This was followed by the screening of a documentary on late Chatung’s life, and a two-minute silence to remember the departed soul.
While APC president Dodum Yangfo welcomed the guests, AEDMA president Migom Toko extended the vote of thanks.
Among others, Transport Secretary Dani Sulu, PRO to the speaker, Sanjay Mosing, Taro Alie Pradhan, wife of late Chatung, DIPROs (Itanagar capital region and headquarters) and officials of the IPR department joined the media fraternity on the day.
All Covid-19-related protocols were followed during the celebration.