TODAY -

Challenges before Media: A glance from the hills of Manipur
- Part 2 -

Sothing Shimray *



(This paper was presented by Sothing Simray, Ex-President, Manipur Hills Journalists' Union, on the seminar organised by DIPR on occasion of National Press Day, at 1st MR Banquet Hall on Nov. 16, 2017)

Journalism has come a long way in Manipur but most us are yet to know whether we are really informed or manipulated. To me the people of Manipur are being controlled by the media. And this is where, I think the media has overstepped. This is another big challenge to the future of media and its relationship with the society.

There has been lots of talk about media's from mainland India sidelining the happenings of North eastern states.

It's a fact. I am sure you agree.

Similarly, the hill districts fumed a lot about being sidelined by the mailand Manipur media. This is also true. I hope you will also agree with me too. How do we bridge this gap is also another big challenge.

In Manipur, apart from the vernaculars, all the major media houses are located at the State Capital area. In respect of staffing pattern also 95 percent are from the one community (I am not questioning about the staffing pattern at all the but just showing the configuration). But over 70 percent of readership of the popular English dailies are from the hill Districts (correct me if I am wrong).

The gap has been appreciably largely bridged these days with every media houses keeping Correspondents at the respective District Hqrs a Correspondent with a consolidative meagre salary of Rs. 4000/5000 or even less a month with about 5000/6000 sq.kms geographical area as his or her beat.

How on earth do you think will the Correspondent perform his or her duty? In fact this is sheer unimaginable. Irrational payment of salaries, behind the Majithia wage board, is big challenge for District Correspondents.

In most case also, the Correspondents are simply kept aloof as non-accounted staff except the story they filled. As they are seemingly non-accounted, their mistakes were left uncorrected, they failed to accustom with the in-house style of writing too.

And they continue to grow old with the same mistakes without reaching the mark. This gives bad reputation to the media house which he works. At the same time his chance to grow in the profession was suffocated.

In democracy, right of the majority prevails, but how do we determined this majority is another big challenge for the media. Does it mean media has the right to sideline the minority?

In a true sense of term here comes the question of empathy. Lack of empathic exercise amongst the various media persons in Manipur is a big challenge to the sanctity of journalism as the most neutral body on earth.

Looking at social issues from a seemingly pre-determined view point of one's interest only usually results 'hurt feeling' the so-called most dangerous emotion on earth, to another.

In Manipur there are many instances of portraying non issues as main issues. We all know that communal harmony is the most important need of Manipur. But reporting on such activities was given a back seat while militant ambushes were giving a front seat.

Rather, we should be exploring stories of those people which work hard to mend the broken threat, the activities of those neighbours which continue to maintain friendly atmospheres amidst the conflict. We need to remember that it is not everyone which are firing the guns or pulling the trigger.

Instead of giving front page to car thieves, smugglers, rape accused etc. It will be much better to focus on the adoption of a village by our MP and MLAs and so on. In other word we need to focus more on positive things rather than the negative things.

Manipur government being a welfare government has indeed been very benevolent to media. This is indeed a laudable effort of people's government. The government through DIPR has also been giving out government information everyday at Imphal.

However, failure of District information offices at the respective District Hqrs is a great set back. Almost all the Districts have vernacular dailies.

To conclude I would like to come to term that it is easier said than done, I myself being a journalist understand the ground difficulties, may be who knows I am the worse, but what I meant by this presentation is to call on every journalist to start practicing the positive, to cut down our ego, to learn on walking the tight rope, to have more empathic sense and to maintain the sanctity of journalistic principles and ethics.

Let us all work to make journalism for solution and not for problem.

Concluded....


* Sothing Shimray wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on November 23, 2017.


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