A tough ordeal
Journalists in Kashmir are witnessing difficult times. Since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by the Union government on August 5, the members of the fourth estate have been witnessing numerous issues.
The prime concern for them is the communication blockade which has not only hampered their work but left an impregnable mark on their performance and credibility as well. No journalist has been able to report the way he would have wanted. The communication blockade has restricted his reach and left him devoid of any contacts with the news sources on whom he relies quite heavily.
Journalists operating at the local level have been the worse hit. Since they are working for the local news organizations, the news output has to be local in content in order to maintain a link with the local readership.
However, during the past nine weeks now, the local news content has not been generated to the level that would satisfy the local needs. The local news content is mostly confined to the issues faced by the local populace. And in a given situation when such news content is not provided or generated altogether, the newsmen are viewed with suspicion and even contempt.
The government on its part maintains that all facilities are being provided to the journalists. The main contention of the administration is that a media centre has been put in place at one of the local hotels in Srinagar and Journalists are being provided access to internet and phone as well.
Nonetheless, providing internet facility to a journalist for half an hour on daily basis cannot be justified as providing all facilities for his functioning and fulfilling his responsibilities of representing the people’s aspirations of acting as their voice.
The restrictions put in place for the local journalists have cost them very dearly. The local news organizations have lost a good amount of revenue that was generated online on their news portals and web editions. The reach of these organizations too has taken a hit as a good number of readers have been denied access to information that they otherwise were in need of.
Now to cap it all the government has denied access to a fact finding team of the Press Council of India (PCI) telling it to visit the state only after November 4.
The 28-member council had decided to send a four-member subcommittee to assess the situation. Toward this end, they wrote to the government of J&K on August 27.
The PCI has maintained that it stands for the freedom of the press and does not approve of any sort of restriction on the media. However, denying entry for the fact finding team to the valley has robbed the journalists an opportunity to vie for their rights once again.