Journalists have often had to deal with high risk situations which put their lives at risk. Camera-persons especially suffer violent attacks while covering sensitive areas. This was most recently showcased when the NDTV’s crew was attacked in Dadri and again in Varanasi, where three camera persons became the victims of PAC personnel.
exchange4media discusses the situation with senior journalists in order to find out how the government and media organisations can come up with security measures to protect media persons covering sensitive areas.
News Broadcasters Association’s President, Rajat Sharma condemned the attacks. He said, “The recent attack on media at Dadri is condemnable. Such attacks raise concerns about the safety of journalists in the country. We have brought this to the notice of the state government. We are hopeful that the government will take all possible measures to create a system where the journalist feels more protected.”
This type of incident is not new in the media industry. While media is considered the fourth pillar of the democracy there are many who make journalists the target of anger and violence.
NDTV, ABP Ananda, Times of India, Zee 24 Ghanta are some of the organisations who’s reporters became recent victims in different attacks around the country.
KVL Narayan Rao, Vice Chairman, NDTV commented, "I think any attack on media persons is to be condemned in no uncertain terms. We are meant to report the truth and people have the right to be informed. That is the essence of democracy. Our journalists do a commendable job, braving all odds to get the news to the people. That should never ever be curtailed. That being said, I do not support any governmental support or protection. We are the fourth estate and independent of the remaining three. That should never be forgotten or compromised.”
On the condition of anonymity, the CEO of a leading Hindi News channel said, “Such attacks are highly condemnable but having said that, if we think practically it’s an occupational hazard. I don’t think there is any measure to stop it and it’s very difficult to implement it(measures). One can’t go and cover news with a police force with them. The only thing an organisation can do is giving them extra insurance and other help.”
When asked whether governments and organisations need to take protective measures in order to protect media persons covering sensitive areas, newly appointed Treasurer of Editors Guild and Senior Journalist, Seema Mustafa said, “No, we don’t need the government to do anything. Media houses should come up with protective measures across the board.”
Kartikeya Sharma, MD, iTV Network opined, “This type of incident is not acceptable at all. I think people by and large respect journalists. But it must be taken into account that this treatment of media is not right; violence cannot be a solution.”
On an average, more than 20 journalists have been attacked and injured over the past couple of weeks. This number may rise given the current scenario and upcoming elections.
Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor, Zee News said, “I think media has become the favourite bashing point. You can’t write or report about any one. If you do, they will accuse the media and give themselves a clean chit. I believe media persons are also citizens of this country and there safety should be ensured.”
In Kolkata, 15 journalists got injured while covering West Bengal local polls. Journalists got beaten with rods, sticks and suffered serious wounds. Many believe that the presence of the crowd was used as a cover to attack the press.
Sanjay Kulshreshtha, Editor in Chief, News Nation Network highlighted what had led the public to attack media persons. “Government should come up with some security measures for sure. Politicians are creating a bad image about media in public. They say the media doesn’t convey exactly what they say, but how can a video clip lie?”