How to protect our digital journalism?
Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) of Pakistan has launched a campaign for the safety and security of the journalists who are working for the digital media. This is after a series of attacks by the extremist and Islamic organizations which has created an environment of fear among the fraternity. The harassment by the authorities and intelligence agencies is also a matter of worry for the Pakistani journalists and that is also forcing to take such steps.
It is to be noted that Pakistan ranks 147 among the 180 among the world ranking of Reporters without borders. But The DRF campaign is not limited to the issue of the journalist’s safety only. It is also to create awareness about the rights of the journalists. Therefore it is a welcome step by the fellow journalists to take appropriate actions.
However, the challenges of safety, security and harassment by authorities are not limited to Pakistan only. Another neighbour Bangladesh is facing a tougher task on this front. Many bloggers have been abducted and killed by the fanatics in recent years and the international community has shown its concerns about the situation. The government of Bangladesh is apparently taken stern action but there is no improvement so far.
In India, we are not facing this problem of that magnitude, but we have to admit that it is raising its ugly head very fast. In many states, fundamentalist forces have targeted journalists and even killed them. Similarly, there are cases of harassment by police and other agencies as well. The cyber laws itself are in question as there are several cases of misuse and abuse of its certain clause. The Apex Court is hearing the case and one can hope that its ruling will provide some kind of a relief to the digital journalists.
Actually, the Indian media community should learn lessons from the DRF. This is the high time when it should unite and formulate a strategy to handle this situation. This is the first step towards fighting the menace. The govt. and authorities are taking advantages of divisions in the fraternity. Once it is united it can oppose the laws which are becoming tools of the authorities and political parties in power.
But this task needs many more things to do. One of the major things in this agenda will be to identify and raise the cases of harassments and then support the victims. This support may be in the form of financial or legal or both.
Secondly, we have to train our digital journalists also as most of not aware of the law and ethics of the journalism. Unknowingly they commit mistakes and face the avoidable consequences.
If we make them aware and trained, then they will be able to protect themselves. I know that it is a humongous task to train the huge number of journalists, but it is not impossible either. The process can be initiated by organizing workshops and distributing lists of do’s and don’ts among the journalists. In this digital era, it is not a big task at all.
In short, we can protect the digital journalism by creating protection through unity and training of the journalist.
-Prof. Mukesh Kumar