Media has always been a sticky issue, especially for the politicians, while most of them have also used the services of media to their best interest. Recently National People’s Party (NPP) legislator James K Sangma demand for restrain on media; he termed the Media in Meghalaya acting as agency for militants, hence should have some restrictions on it. On the other side, Karnataka government is mulling a ban on allowing private television cameras inside the Assembly when the House is in session.
It is strange for James to make such demand, when his father Former Speaker of Lok Sabha, from 1996 to 1998, Purno Agitok Sangma was instrumental in allowing the cameras into the Parliament while in sessions, and all State Assemblies have also allowed the entry of cameras. Today, junior Sangma demands restraining media.
His contention was that since media, including newspapers, news channels and news portals, decimate information widely and consistently carrying news about militants and their activities including bandh calls, fear psychosis has developed among people who easily get panicked whenever such reports appear.
On the other hand, Karnataka legislative Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa informed that there is a proposal for the Assembly to start their own Channel on the lines of Lok Sabha TV; once own channel is set up, obviously other private cameras won’t be allowed during the session.
Karnataka in the past had put the nation to shame, when the electronic media exposed how the legislators are viewing pornography via mobile phone while the Assembly was in session. Such move is termed as an attempt to clip the wings of the electronic media in Karnataka.
In the state of Meghalaya, the incumbent Chief Minister Dr Mukul M Sangma is the only state politician to have hired professional media manager to build his political career, unlike the Shillong Member of Parliament, Vincent H Pala, who used every medium of media only during election campaigning.
Dr Sangma has handled the media houses well. He has prevented any of his cabinet colleagues to speak to the media, including the Home Minister, who has not spoken to any of the journalists or addressed any press briefing even as Garo Hills is boiling under militancy. In most government propaganda, media is being given tailor made reports.
Unlike his predecessor, former Chief Minister Dr DD Lapang who met the press over breakfast on every first Saturday of the month, exchange of notes during the meet had helped in informing the government about the reality at ground zero level.
Be it in Meghalaya or Karnataka, one need to accept Media has come of age; the style of reporting during the Quit India Movement and the contemporary issues are quite a contrast. Also the modern technologies have turned reporting much quicker and easier, which also means any vested interest can effortlessly influence the media in Meghalaya.
It is time for the media houses, including print, electronic and portals, to be united to withstand all such attempts to curb the Freedom of Press.