TODAY -

Punching bag
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: 12th June, 2008 -

Maybe it reflects the importance of the media or maybe some elements are under the misguided impression that the media is there to do their bidding or the media is there as a platform to wage their proxy war against their foes or nemesis, but the bitter truth is that the media in Manipur has been taken for granted for too long by many of the non-State actors in the State.

Nowhere would one find the media being sandwiched between any two or three powerful groups, each dictating that the media should do what it wants them to do.

In fact if the situation was not so serious, it would have raised not just eye brows but also guffaws at the manner in which the media is expected to dance to the tunes of some of these 'bravehearts.'

Imagine a situation where one group, or more specifically one faction of a group dictates that the media in Manipur should publish their statement while another faction opposed to it comes out with the restrictions that if the media dare to publish the said statement then they would face the music. Editors have been threatened over such an issue and there have been many such instances in the past.

Threats have been issued that even if the Editors cannot be targeted then reporters who have to go to the field will be targeted.

Not satisfied with this, some groups had even threatened that news paper distributors, or hawkers, as they are known more popularly here would be attacked ! What does all this say ?

Nothing, but reducing the media to the status of a punching bag for all concerned ! In the past the media in Manipur had to shut down in protest against open threats and diktats from many power players and the sad part is no one seems to have realised their earlier follies.

Like any other profession, journalism too comes with its baggage of professional hazards and like everyone else, the media persons too have to live and survive the situation in Manipur.

But there is something called a defining line, a Laxman Rekha, that should not be crossed and this is what the media persons in the State have been trying to protect all these years unitedly.

The pressure comes mainly from many of the armed groups which are there masquerading as revolutionaries, but whose sole agenda is to earn some quick bucks by raising the slogan of taking up a cause for the land and the people !

Their modus operandi is simple enough. Force the media to publish their statement to announce their arrival or to earn a certain degree of legitimacy and then start their nefarious deeds.

It is this which the media in the State has been trying to oppose, but with little success, given the threat perception.

Apart from these elements, there are pressures of different hues and colours which the media has to cope with. Failure to cover a news story may lead to a newspaper being banned in certain parts of the State.

Some newspapers, including The Sangai Express, have even been dubbed communal for not covering a non-event as a news item !

As we have said, either the media is so important to warrant such interference or there are some elements who are under the impression that the media is here to serve their sole interest.

Either way, it stinks !





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