The most stringent nationwide lockdown was imposed during the start of covid19 pandemic. This caused widespread retrenchment and job cuts throughout the country. The journalists of mass media have not also been spared from this. This has been an all India phenomenon. The corporatisation of mass media, like any other business, is always looking for its investment of capital and the profit thereof. As result, in this media business, the fourth pillar of democracy, the security and social safety of the journalists have no value or place. Despite the widespread retrenchment in the media sector, not a single national level newspaper/TV channels takes up the issue. There are “Industrial Dispute Act 1947”, “Working Journalist Act 1955″and “Journalist Labour Board”in the country and there are so many rules and directions also. But the media houses are going on with the retrenchments regularly during the pandemic.

As per the report published in the News click recently, the Times of India has retrenched 18 journalists. Similarly, more than 100 journalists from the Hindu and Hindustan Times have also been retrenched. 46 journalists and cameramen from the India Today have also faced the same fate. The Indian Express was the first national daily went for pay-cut of their employees. It is also reported that more than 500 journalists from various local odia dailies have also lost their jobs. Though the journalists and columnists are pillars of the mass media, no discussion is happening at anywhere. Nor even any meaningful protest against this authoritarian approach of the media houses is being initiated.

The commercial news houses claim as independent one but in practice, it is observed that almost all the media houses, except one or two newspaper/web portals, are the brand wagon of the government. They are engaged in propaganda for the ruler and are influencing the public opinion. They are doing all these in the very interest of their business. Despite of this type of role model of the mainstream media, some of the honest journalists along with a few small news portals are trying their best to speak the truth to the people.

A total failure of handling the covid19 pandemic by the Union as well as the provincial governments is quite clear. The public health is a past now and the reasons of its dilapidated condition is overlooked. The government has failed to provide necessary kits to the doctors, health workers and other associated workers in the country. Almost non-existence of any viable and recognizable research in health sector is overlooked. The government is frequently changing its stand and directions without heeding to any meaningful conclusion. There is a scarcity of medical kits and equipment also.

Besides, there are a lot of instances of corruption in purchasing of various health related equipments which are widely exposed by a number of journalists who are facing the wrath of the employers. Daewel Patel, a web based journalist from Gujrat, reported various aspects of failure of the government of Gujrat for which he was arrested under the sedition act (124A). Similarly, more than 55 journalists including Mr Pawan Choudhury of Bihar and other states like UP, J&K, HP Maharashtra, and Tamilnadu etc. have been ruthlessly arrested on various false charges. So far 22 FIRs have been registered against these journalists in various states.

The leaders and activists from the ruling parties have threatened to kill and rape some of the honest journalists such as Dibya Krista, Rana Ayub and Prasant Kabochia. Recently, the police of Delhi, Hariyana and UP are regularly arresting the leaders and activists of anti-CAA movements in implicating them with certain false and fabricated charges but all these important developments are completely avoided to cover by the mainstream media houses except one or two.

We, the Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraskha Sangathan, Odisha have the view that during lockdown and shutdown the viewers are largely dependent on mainstream media, most likely the TV channels, to adjust their daily schedule with frequently and suddenly changing guidelines of the government in name of checking virus. The TV channels are taking advantage of it and are making more business out of it rather than being a pillar of the democracy. They are becoming propaganda machine of the government and are hiding so many other things from us and choose not to question the government. A social pressure is essential to monitor this sector and alternative medium should be propagated more for a check and balance of their apparent monopoly.

Write your comments to : The President, GASS, Odisha,

Email: gassbhubaneswara@gmail.com


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