In a press statement released on 26th September, the Editors Guild of India led by President Seema Mustafa, General Secretary Sanjay Kapoor and Treasurer Anant Nath, has expressed pain and anguish over hundreds of FIRs being filed against journalists of Republic TV. The said channel is being probed for allegedly manipulating TRPs and spreading discontent against the Mumbai Police.
Victimization of Journalists is Wrong
The Guild has emphasized that it does not wish to influence the probe by the authorities but the victimization of the journalists must stop. Even if they recognize that the probe has potential to bring in much needed transparency on the issue of TRP manipulation and proceeds of crime, even then victimisation of journalists is not warranted.
Limits of Investigative Journalism being crossed
The Guild also expressed displeasure over Republic’s high-strung conduct covering the unfortunate demise of Sushant Singh Rajput, especially the harangue directed at actor Rhea Chakraborty. They said that the pertinent questions asked by the Bombay High Court to the channel, such as “Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking the public about their opinion on who should be arrested?” must be addressed by all media. Also, they noted that the Court wondered whether the media was encroaching upon the domain of the police. Similar reservations about Republic’s conduct has been expressed even by the News Broadcaster’s association (NBA) that disagrees with it’s reporting.
Both Media and Police Should Act Responsibly
The police should ensure that media rights are not suppressed by arrest of journalists and the channel should ensure that collective credibility of media should not be affected and the safety of journalists are not compromised by such reporting. Right to free speech does not mean a licence to promote hate speech. It is important to maintain balance between media freedom and the imperative for it to reside within the rule of law.
Ed. Note: Bombay High Court has been wrongly identified as Mumbai High Court in the statement
*Associate Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd.