Manipur press fights to safeguard its freedom

IN Regional Media | 22/06/2005
The code is intended for the safety of journalists as well as to safeguard the integrity of the news.





Linda Chhakchhuak 



June 21: Beleaguered by diktats from the various armed elements in the state on one side and the police and security apparatus on the other the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) passed a resolution outlining a Journalists’ code of conduct. (see the full code at the end of report)


The idea behind coming out with such a code seems to have been made with the safety of the journalists in mind while at the same time to keep the integrity of the news. The whole process leading to the passing of this Code started rolling with the protest staged by the press persons of the hill district of Churandchandpur who decided to keep their newspapers shut down for four days from June 14 to June 19 as a mark of protest against the "against assault on press freedom," said The Imphal Free Press (IFP), a local daily in Manipur.


On June 20 all the Imphal based newspapers also shut down as a token marking their full support to the issues raised by the Manipur Hill Journalists Union (MHJU) scribes. Together the two unions staged dharnas at both district headquarters Churandchandpur and Imphal city.


According to the IFP, the hill journalists staged this "prompted by attempts made by various elements in the district to suppress and violate the exercise of freedom of the press by the Churachandpur-based newspapers."


The MHJU also decided to that their newspapers would remain suspended till June 19 and not to yield to pressure and diktats occasionally imposed by various sections. It also condemned the constant intimidation of media persons. In their emergency meeting they took the stand that henceforth not publish any press releases or any other items sent by any outfit or organization which does not bear the letterhead, signature of the responsible persons and other proof of genuineness.


They also resolved that any daily news relating to events or incidents, and public interest reports would be highlighted without any show of partiality to the underground or the security or police side.


Earlier the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union and Editors’ Forum Manipur throwing their weight behind the protest left their editorial column blank on June 18. This was followed by an emergency meeting of scribes on June 19 when they decided to set up the code of conduct. (below)


Journalists’ Code of Conduct

(The Imphal Free Press)

(Resolutions adopted by the special general body meeting of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union held on 19th June, 2005 near Power House Office at Keishampat in connection with the sit-in-protest in support of Manipur Hill Journalists` Union`s agitation against the threat to the FREEDOM OF PRESS)

1. No claim made by unidentified sources/person(s) over telephone will be entertained. In case of identification, editors will decide.

2. No press conference called by any individual or organizations without official invitation will be accepted.

3. All press releases of any organization have to be duly signed with the organizational seal on the letterhead.

4. All press releases of any organisation(s) must be issued before
8 pm for morning dailies, 3 pm for eveningers and 4 pm
for cable news channels.
5. In case of conflict/controversies between two or more parties, views of parties concerned will be given equal coverage.

6. If the arguments and counter arguments raised become harmful to the state and could claim human lives, the AMWJU reserves the right to censor.

7. In the event of an organization or individual desiring to withdraw any press-release before be ing printed the same organization or individual who signed the press-release must approach the editor concerned.

8. If any individual/organizations have any grievances (except petty or small matters which can be resolved by the editor) against any newspaper, the concerned should first approach the AMWJU to address the problem.

9. All newspapers media persons will follow the norms of journalistic conduct as laid down by the Press Council of India (PCI).

10. Editors are advised to refrain from sensationalizing any news report or indulging in sensationalism.

11. Editors will bear the responsibility for mistake or omission and the commission appearing in their newspaper.

12. All editors have the right to censor/delete partly or as a whole any news report or press-release or interview or press conference which could create communal tension or group clashes.

13. In case of violation of the CODE OF CONDUCT laid down by the AMWJU by any reporter/newspaper, the AMWJU will initiate punitive action against the reporter/newspaper.

14. It is the prerogative of an editor to publish or not to publish a news report or a press-release.

15. A report of a newspaper should not be contradicted by another newspaper in the form of a rejoinder or an advertisement or a news report. Even if necessity arises, the version of the newspaper concerned be taken by the other newspaper before any such publication.

16. Press releases of any organization should be made available to all offices of the press/newspaper/media organization by the organization on its own. No press/newspaper/media organization should be given the responsibility to distribute the press-release(s).

17. Editors will not entertain any Diktat from any quarter to publish or not to publish a news report or press-release.

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