TODAY -

Editorial of the week

Assault On The Media
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 23rd December, 2006



The life attempt mounted on the Editor and publisher of eveninger Kangla Pao by unidentified gunmen on the night of December 20 is once again a reflection of the dangers that media persons are being exposed to in this State.

This was not the first time that the gun has been turned towards a journalist in the State and judging by the prevailing situation, this may not be the last.

The bullet fortunately missed the Editor, Paonam Labango, but this does not in any way lessen the magnitude of the terror plan that was hatched to carry out the attack.

During the last few years, even as the print media in Manipur has made rapid strides on many front, there has been a corresponding rise in the unwanted pressure and intimidation mounted on the journalists.

While the progress made in the technology employed to produce the day's papers and the rising professionalism of those engaged in this calling is encouraging, it is on the other hand ironic that the media should be seen and treated as the favourite whipping boys of all concerned and the most significant point is almost all the pressure and intimidation have come from the non-State actors.

If anything, the past is an indicator of how a number of non-State actors have been exerting their pressure on the media. Not so long ago six senior Editors were kept hostage for one night by an armed faction just because the media had refused to publish their statement.

This was not all.

There have been many times when diktats have been issued by different players on what to publish and not to publish and there have been times when the media has been caught between the proverbial devil and the deep sea with one powerful group dictating that a particular statement should be published with another equally powerful group asserting that the same statement should not be published !

This is a serious situation and it is all that more abhorrent because everyone continues to swear by the principle of a free and fair media.

Today Mr Paonam Labango Mangang is alive through sheer providence, but the motive and the identity of the killers are not clear and have not been spelt out.

We are not interested in anyone coming out with a statement and trying to justify the attack on the senior journalist.

No one has the right to simultaneously assume the role of police, judge and executioner as well and it is this growing culture that we should stand against.

We do admit that the media in Manipur is not without fault.

There have been times when we have succumbed to pressure and there have been times when we have crawled when asked to kneel. At times we have been forced to compromise our principles due to the immense pressure mounted from different directions.

However despite all these shortcomings, we cannot be faulted for not trying our best and we would like to believe that our best effort is good enough.

If this is not the case, then we are open to criticisms and suggestions.

However instead of taking recourse to positive steps, a number of pressure groups and non-State actors have been treating the media as their whipping boys.

Even student organisations have come under the impression that the media in Manipur should kow-tow to their agenda ! It is time for the civil society organisations to realise that it is also their responsibility to make the media of the State stronger and in the process more credible.

A media which is taken as the whipping boy of everyone cannot enjoy credibility in front of the international community and given the role that the journalists have been taking up in situation that Manipur is passing through, the need of a credible media is all that more important.




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