Experts concerned about journalists covering conflict zones

Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, the North East region and parts of Maharashtra are treated as the most sensitive areas for journalists

by Abid Hasan
Published - Dec 10, 2012 7:49 PM Updated: Dec 10, 2012 7:49 PM
Experts concerned about journalists covering conflict zones

There are various sensitive areas in the country that come under the category of ‘conflict zones’ for journalists. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, the North East region and parts of Maharashtra are treated as the most sensitive areas.

Highlighting some of the perils that journalists face working in such sensitive areas, KK Katyal, President, South Asia Media Commission (SAMC), said, “Not many are aware of the difficulties that journalists who are working in such areas face. They are faced with blackmailing, death threats and family threats. These issues need to be solved as early as possible.”

Elaborating more on this problem, Katyal said, “Honest efforts should be made from various sectors to solve the problem. We need proper campaigns as well as a clear perspective from the government, press council and society. All these bodies should lead from the front to take control of this situation.”

Sharing his views and suggesting a remedy to this problem, Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman, Press Council of India, said, “It is said that truth is the first casualty of war. This problem can’t be solved unless you resolve the causes that give rise to the semi war situation. It will be difficult solve this easily.”

According to Justice Katju, merely talking about the problems will not work, the root cause of the problems plaguing the sensitive areas need to be resolved first, otherwise the situation will remain the same.

He further noted that the Press Council of India lacks power and asked the government to give the body more teeth. “Only censorship is not sufficient,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, on a different note, Kumar Ketkar, Chief Editor, Divya Marathi, lamented that today’s journalists lacked the curiosity, concern and commitment. He felt that while reporting from conflict zones, journalists did that more because of fear of losing their jobs if they don’t get good stories and not because they are committed.

He urged news organisations to look after their journalists’ interests with measures such as providing them with insurance policies and so on, so that they can carry on with their work in a fearless manner as their families are taken care of.

The speakers were sharing views on the topic ‘Reporting Conflict Zones’, organised by SAMC in New Delhi on December 8, 2012.

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