Media : Caught in the turf war Not the first time
No doubt powerful entities but when they become obsessed with ‘power play’ then it is the soft targets that are invariably targeted and like in the past, the media was the target this time. It is a kind of a ‘race’ all run under the self defined belief that the race to get their version printed and published in the media would give them that degree of social legitimacy. And so it was that Manipur went without their daily newspaper and daily news inputs from the local television channels on October 11, 12 and 13. For three full days all Imphal based and hill based newspapers shut shop and so too did the local TV news channels. The reason was simple and is a rehashed script, the same old story which forced the media here to shut shop and this goes back to as early as the year 2000. From 2000 to 2022 and the scenario has not changed at all for in between there have been numerous other instances when the press had to suspend publication, though the reasons may differ. In the process, it is not only the media which receives the brunt but such situations also create a ‘conducive atmosphere’ for some elements within the student community to flex their muscles and speak in a tone far removed from the understanding of students. An embarrassing situation it is before the whole student community, given the fact that there are numerous student organisations each representing the interest of a particular community or student organisations which purportedly claim to represent the whole State. The media is back to work but this should not be taken to mean that the issue has been resolved and the interesting question is how and at what stage did power players come under the assumption that Editors, Reporters, Sub-Editors and Correspondents should kow tow to their fancy and whims ? Why should those who can flex their muscles come under the impression that they can and should decide what is news worthy ? Are the Editors such a bunch of incompetent lot that their job of deciding which news should come and which news should be left out should be taken over by the power players ? The very fact that these questions have been raised should tell the story of where Manipur exactly stands on the scale of progress.
For the good of society, for the good of the student community, to ensure the future of everyone-these are lines which are being bandied about but take a closer look and it becomes more than obvious that these are not much more than alibis to make up for the pursuit which suits them. This should explain why diktats are passed around that so and so should be reported while at the other end there is an equally strong stand that such a report should not be published. Caught in between is obviously the media. Stand offs between different powerful elements is not peculiar to Manipur and Nagaland and the Naga dominated districts of Manipur have seen splinter groups, each asserting their own stand, but so far one has not heard of the media in the neighbouring State forced to suspend publication due to such stand offs between the various groups. Each group continue on their own under the name they prefer to call themselves without exerting pressure on the media. Here it is a dicey situation and one hopes that the people in general understand the pressure of push and pull which constrained the media to suspend publication for three days on the trot. Not that this was the first time, and there is nothing much to suggest that this will be the last time either. Professional hazard one may call it but when these hazards mean being subjected to implicit intimidations over one’s safety then it can mean that it has crossed the line of ‘professional hazards.’ This should be enough to understand why the media went off press for three days. A sort of an explanation to the readers is what has prompted this observation and verbal expression of what is felt at The Sangai Express.