Friday, March 25, 2011

Hunting the Tiger

 ONE MORE Press Freedom Day has passed with numer­ous resolutions conceded around the world asserting the right to free speech and condemning 'ter­rorism' and 'threat to lives' faced by the journalist fraternity. The joint appeal by the heads of UN, UNESCO and UNHCHR stated that 'the temptation to impose drastic State regulation upon the media must be resisted.' The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an inde­pendent, non-profit organisation based in New York ( that fights for the rights of journalists worldwide, marked the Press Freedom Day by naming the 'world's worst places to be a journalist' .
The West Bank tops the list fol­lowed by Columbia and Afghanistan, where eight journalists were killed in late 2001 'where U.S. government actions have hindered independent reporting on the war.' The other nations include Eritrea, Belarus, Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and Cuba. CPJ's recent­ly published annual report, Attacks on the Press in 2001, contains more than 500 individual cases of attacks against journalists in more than 130 countries. The survey report by the CPJ shows the state of the press around the globe today. Every regime irrespective of authoritarian, democracy or junta targets the press as it disseminates information which will hamper the interests of the regime. John Keane, in his book The Media and Democracy (1991), regards state censorship as a phe­nomenon which continues in modern democracies. He identifies a tenden­cy toward the creation of mutually ­protecting undemocratic processes within and between modern capitalis­tic societies. This is, according to Keane, one of the main threats to the free flow of information about state activities. Governments use a number of mechanisms to regulate and distort the exchange of information and opinions between their citizens. Repressive measures come as sequel to these unholy activities. Reports from around the globe prove this fact. Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, journalists have been featured heavi­ly among the victims, says a paper by the International Press Institute (IPI). It says that, the Israeli Defence Force committed at least 165 press freedom violations during the Al-Aqsa Intifada including four killings.
A couple of years ago the Czech prime minister called the Czech jour­nalists 'manure and scum, amateurs and graduates of schools for retarded people.' In Russia the situation is much grave that according to the NGO Glasnost Defence Foundation 'the authorities continue to purge the information sector of anything they consider constitutes opposition. You have to think very carefully before saying or writing anything'. He com­pares the position of the media today unfavourably with the relative liberal­ism of the media under Gorbachev. In our country scribe hunting has become a natural way to react to media reports. Last month Paritosh Panday, a crime reporter of the Janasarta Express daily was mur­dered. The recent police assault on journalists in Ahmedabad was con­demned by the All India Newspaper Editors' Conference (AINEC) as 'another example in the continuing sage of bestiality in Gujarat spon­sored by the government with the willing and enthusiastic zeal of police.' In Gambia a draconian media bill was adopted by the Parliament on 2 May to set up a National Media Commission that will be 'a full-scale press court'. In Turkey a new law has been envisaged to bar 'pessimistic' news. On 5 May the, Guardian reported that Israeli troops threw stun grenades at a convoy of 25 foreign journalists and confiscated some of their identity cards during a con­frontation in the West Bank and the story continues. The Index on Censorship ( a mag­azine devoted to free speech and expression provides you with innu­merable examples about press cen­sorship and repression worldwide. Other useful sites that offer informa­tion about the press freedom viola­tions are the World Association of Newspapers (, International Press Institute ( and the rights and research group Freedom House ( The Freedom House survey 2000 says that nearly two-thirds of countries, accounting for 80 percent of the world's population, restrict press freedom. Only 69 (37 percent) coun­tries in the world enjoy a free press, 51 (27 percent) countries have a part­ly free media and in the rest 66 coun­tries (36 percent), print and broadcast systems are not free. The survey regards the press in India as partly free with a rating of 45 in partly free range of 31 to 60. It also warns of the internet censorship as the newest form of threat to the press freedom.
It says that 'in order to restrict internet access, governments may require special licensing and regula­tion of internet use, limit internet traffic to filtered government servers, remove controversial pages from websites, and even apply existing press laws to internet content.' The report says that recently in Russia, the successor of the KGB is forcing 'I Internet service providers (lSPs) to install surveillance equipment, in Burma the 'cyberspace warfare cen­ter' hacks into computers that send or receive forbidden messages, in China imprisonment is the rule for cyber dissidents, and in most of the middle east countries access to the internet is possible only through government servers and thus subject to surveil­lance. A responsible, uncorrupt and unbiased media is the back bone of a healthy political system, and it is what the new media order has to prove to in order to surpass the repressions and break chains, and its what history has proved. A bad media system would only beget a bad regime and hence repressions.

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