ITANAGAR: The role of media in creating and shaping public opinion and the responsibility of mediapersons as watchdogs of the society were highlighted in detail during the National Press Day celebration here on Monday.
The celebration here along with the rest of the country was organised by the Arunachal Press Club (APC), Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalist (APUWJ), Arunachal Electronic and Digital Media Association (AEDMA) and the Directorate of Information and Public Relations.
Addressing a gathering of journalists from across the state, APUWJ president Amar Sangno called upon his media comrades to reaffirm themselves to preserve, protect and defend the freedom of press and uphold the highest standards of journalism.
Sangno said 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 his concerns over the mushrooming of digital and social media platforms.
“Though the International Federation of Journalists, the largest working journalist’s organisation 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 principle and ethical media houses,” he said.
Sangno said these media organisations are neither obligatory to fundamental principles of journalism nor do they follow basic journalistic ethics, thus jeopardising the noble profession.
Sangno on behalf of the state’s media fraternity also expressed his gratitude to the Pema Khandu-led government for its constant support and cooperation, thus, enabling healthy growth of the state media.
“We acknowledge chief minister Khandu for creating a media-friendly atmosphere in his governance,” he said while adding that with the passing of the Arunachal Electronic Media Advertisement Policy 2020 by the state government, the proprietors of digital and electronic media would ensure quality journalism in their respective media houses and also provide job and personal security to working journalists and other employees working in their organisations.
Sangno also called upon the state government to come up with a special journalist’s 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 in regards 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 head of mass communication department, Moji Riba called upon the mediapersons to be earnest.
Speaking on the topic “So why am I in the Media?” Riba said the challenges and responsibilities of journalists have gone 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 honorable witness to history’. So journalists must make sure that they built the relationship of trust with their audience by providing the correct information,” Riba said.
Riba said what a journalist writes and shows shapes the vision of the audience 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 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 shutdown. 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,” Riba 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 ‘Contextualising 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 while calling upon the mediapersons to stay away from giving opinions on 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 paths of truth and accuracy, humility and accountability and 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 upon his media comrades to stay away from being activists.
IPR deputy director Dehang Bosai while speaking on the topic ‘Challenges of Government Media’ spoke of the issues the district IPR officers (DIPROs) face while carrying out their duties due to connectivity issues.
He, however, thanked the mediapersons of the state for their coordination and support in regards to disseminating information on several development aspects of the government.
“We can coordinate and work together as we are in the same boat,” Bosai said.
Earlier the event saw additional public relations officer to 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 film on late Chatung’s life and a two-minute silence to remember the departed soul.
Where APC president Dodum Yangfo welcomed the guests, AEDMA president Migom Toko extended the vote of thanks.
Among others, secretary (transport) Dani Sulu, PRO to speaker Sanjay Mossing, Taro Alie Pradhan, wife of Late Chatung, and 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 celebrations.