‘Elections are testing time for journalists’

Silchar, Feb 15: Election is the best of time and also the worst of time. Best because every citizen exercises his democratic right to choose his representative (MLA/MP) and even change the government for good governance. It is also the time when journalists are put to test for free, fair and fearless journalism. Worst because it also exposes the ugly side of journalism, now known as "paid journalism". This was how Silchar Press Club general secretary Shankar Dey expressed his views while initiating the discussion on "Coming elections in Assam and the role of journalists" organized on the 42nd anniversary of the club here today. In the context of Bihar, Dey pointed out that journalists in general or media houses had done their job of responsible journalism quite creditably, projecting the moods and trends across that State and finally analyzing that people wanted Nitish Kumar and his coalition government to continue. This has brought into focus, as he said, the fact that a journalist has to be fair, free and fearless, above any bias and prejudiceand above all objective in their reporting. He said, "If Bihar has even lessons on elections, journalists too have conveyed the message that journalismremains a noble and respected profession." Assam University teacher Santanu Sarkar said that in view of the controversy over "paid news syndrome", journalists and their media houses should be guided by certain ethics. "During elections, as the media has to play a greater role, such prescriptive modalities have to be strictly adhered to," he said. Sarkar referred to the concern expressed by the Editors' Guild led by the noted journalist Rajdeep Sardesai at the phenomenon seen quite blatantly during the assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. Poet and journalist Bijay Kumar Bhattacharjee spoke about the role of media in presenting or projecting a true picture of the pre-poll and post-poll scenarios, besides the developments on the polling day. Presenjit Bhattacharjee appreciated the journalists of Barak Valley for theirsense of social responsibility. AnsumanAcharya, another journalist, expressedconcern over lack of objectivity in some cases. He also focused on the questionable role of the management. Former president of the club Taj UddinBarbhuiya urged upon the journalists to expose the politicians displaying money and muscle power in the interest of fair elections. Biswajit Hazam of the Bengali daily Janakantha said the media should work as a "watchdog". Neharul Islam Mazumder said the Article 19 of the Indian Constitution had given freedom of expression to every mediaperson which, he said, should be used as an instrument in theinterest of society. Others who spoke on the subject, touching on its various aspects, include Sanjib Singh of television channel Barak Barta, Arup Das of Prantajyoti and others. Silchar Press Club vice-president Mahua Choudhury summed up the discussion before giving the vote of thanks to all the participants.(sentinelassam)

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