Recent attacks on IBN7 journalist in Lucknow raised a grave concern over the autonomy of local media.
India is one of the 13 risky countries where journalists are murdered and governments are unable and sometimes unwilling to bring the killer to books. Even among them Northeast states have the worst record.
Assam and Manipur still remains a danger zone for working journalists. Assam figures among the state with the highest number of journalist killings in the country in past few years. The trouble torn State lost over 20 editor-journalist-correspondents in the last two decades, where no conviction has been made in any case. In Manipur too journalists are under fire from both insurgents and government. Whistle blowers and active journalists who reports against human rights violation and atrocities of armed forces are threatened.
Memories of dreadful attacks on Hamro Prajashakti, a Nepali daily and Himalayan Mirror, English daily from Sikkim has not faded till now. The attacks took place some four years back, journalists were beaten up and office was vandalized by the miscreants. Tight grip of government over the media can still be felt in the state.
The situation is not better in Meghalaya. A union minister fulminated over the local media when they reported about his involvement in a fake killing of a criminal Fullmoon Dhar. Same is the story everywhere in the country. Be it Hindi speaking states or states with regional newspapers.
The larger question is about the dependence of local media houses on government ads. National media can get away because of other sources of revenue. But same luxury is not shared by the local media. Many of them are surviving just because of the government ads. This many times is used for arm-twisting by the state governments.
On the other side there are set of people who consider themselves above law. If their misdeeds get highlighted by the media, their insanity comes at the core in form of violence. The infallible example is the attacks on whistle blowers and journalists in recent times.
There is a great danger to fourth pillar of the democracy in this very hostile environment. Journalists who are already less paid and over worked find it difficult to be free and fair. Today editors act more like a businessman than journalists. For them business matters most and for that they even go to the extent of killing the stories.
But still the biggest fear for criminals and corrupt people is of getting exposed. Their transgressions are under constant vigil of dedicated and passionate journalists. This very thing is unpalatable for wrong doers.
Thus it is very right to say that no one likes free and fair media.