TODAY -

Haunting Imphal based media : Old script, old story
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: November 28 2020 -



Old script. One side piling on the pressure that a statement issued by another group should not be published and another insisting that the same should be published.

Both obviously come with the unsaid but loud message that if their bidding is not done, then they should not be held responsible for any eventuality.

Caught in the middle is the media in Manipur. Read this script somewhere earlier?

Welcome to the state of the fourth estate in Imphal.

Mark the stress on the word Imphal, for what one is talking about is the reality dogging the Imphal based media and not those based at Churachandpur, Ukhrul or Senapati.

So it is that newspaper readers had to go without the day's paper along with their morning cuppa fortwo days, one on November 25 and the other on November 26.

That this happens in a land where everyone seems to swear and live by the slogan of a free and independent media, is what is unacceptable.

Old timers, those who have been in this profession for years will recall the times when Keishampat junction had become the destination for many to stage dharnas and sit-in-protests whenever pressures were mounted on the newspaper houses and the local TV channels on what news items should be published and what should not be published.

Things get all that uglier when the media is caught in the middle of a turf war or verbal war between any two opposing sides, both of which may be extremely powerful.

The only option left before the media professionals is to silence their own pen, voluntarily and go off press to highlight the extremely difficult position they have been pushed into.

Old script, old story but coming back to haunt the Imphal based media houses and the reality is ugly.

This was not the first time that media houses in Imphal had shut shop and there is no guarantee that this will be the last either, that is as long as the misplaced belief that the media can be brow beaten into quit submission continues to dog the thinking of those who wield power and influence.

Rewind to 2000/2001 when Imphal based media houses shut shop for some days as two opposing groups emerged over the question of whether a particular news item should be published or not.

It was in the dead of the night that reporters, sub-editors, the DTP boys and Editors all walked out of their respective offices and camped the night at Keishampat and carried on a dharna into the next few days, demanding that the pressure on the media be eased.

Between that and now there have been several other instances of when the media was made the favourite punching bag of quite a number of powerful players.

The Sangai Express has already received a 'bomb gift' during one of those days when the media was caught between two contesting groups, all over a question of whether a news item should be carried or not.

Cut to the present, 2020 and there is nothing much to suggest that things have improved over the years and November 25 and November 26, when the people had to go without the day's paper underlined this point in unambiguous terms.

There is nothing to crow about this here.



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