Newmai News Network
DIMAPUR |Oct 17
Coming down heavily against threat and intimidation towards the media community, a joint statement of seven newspapers published in Nagaland has urged all sections of society to enable a free and vibrant fourth estate.
The statement from Nagaland Post, The Morung Express, Nagaland Page, Capi, Ao Milen, Eastern Mirror and Tir Yimyim has come amid rising cases of intimidation, pressure and coercion against the media houses.
Media houses in the State of Nagaland asked whether they have the space to exercise freedom of the press. It said that every citizen is “responsible to ensure that the media is allowed to function freely”.
The joint statement asked whether the Nagaland State government is “even aware of its responsibility to uphold the fourth pillar of democracy” and added that media is the only means to publicly confront all forms of political, economic and social suppression.
Further it reminded that the Nagaland newspapers are the only active and functioning private enterprise in Nagaland, which continue to render public service amidst a faltering infrastructure and a corrupt system that deprives citizens of even their most basic of needs.
The newspapers have a responsibility to present, not only the sorry state of affairs in a free and open manner to enable accountability, but also provide the platform where solutions, ideas and views are elicited from all cross sections of society, the statement added.
However, in the process of upholding its responsibility, the media continues to be exposed to ongoing harassment and threats by individuals and organisations that coerce the media to publish their articles and statements, it said, adding there are also people who take it upon themselves to determine what the media cannot publish.
This also involves dissuading and threatening journalists and media houses from reporting critical stories that expose ground realities of Nagaland’s situation and condition, it maintained.
In addition to journalists, another serious issue involves the safety and security of drivers delivering newspapers who travel at odd hours while transporting newspapers through villages and towns across Nagaland. Drivers are regularly stopped, harassed and even physically assaulted by miscreants, it added.
The statement continued such coercive methods only undermine the very purpose and existence for a free press and its role of keeping society informed, and contributing to its health and vibrancy.
“It is not the prerogative of the politician or the bureaucrat. Nor, is it the privilege of the journalist. It is journalists, through their day-to-day work, who are exercising every citizen’s right to free speech by seeking and circulating news, information, ideas, opinions, perspectives and comments. The press provides the public platform for diverse voices to be heard and to raise issues of accountability”, it added.
The joint statement further stressed that Nagaland newspapers are united and resolute in their stand against all coercions and threats in order to function freely as the fourth pillar of a democratic society.