On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2017, we the members of the Delhi Union of Journalists uphold our right to report, comment, write and express our views and observations through the electronic and visual media frankly, freely and fearlessly.
We deeply regret the growing intolerance in our country which threatens the freedoms of both the media and the citizenry. A climate of fear is being created through increasing attacks on common people by goons and vigilantes. Attacks on the media are growing. Journalists in conflict prone areas are being beaten up, hounded out, jailed or killed.
Journalists who expose corruption are also being targeted. A new weapon is the use of ‘slap suits’ or defamation cases against journalists. These entangle journalists in expensive court battles with the sword of heavy punitive damages hanging over their heads. Media outfits often leave the journalist to fight such battles on their own, particularly if the journalist is a freelancer.
The other routinely used weapon is targeted verbal attacks through the social media. Trolling seems to have become the norm, with Google, Facebook and similar media refusing to take any serious action to stop it. Women journalists in particular face sexually abusive comments for daring to voice their opinions.
We also condemn the growing pressures on media persons to conform to certain manufactured political narratives. We regret that the electronic media in particular is being misused by a nexus of corporate and political interests to promote sectarian hatreds, Islamophobia, Pakistan phobia and other ills. We call upon all journalists to resist such pressures and refrain from promoting divisive, polarizing and communal political agendas.
We urge all journalists to retain their independence and report freely and objectively in these difficult times when the media’s credibility is under serious threat. A free media is an essential element of democracy and we must defend it with all our skills.