Denying the digital journo

Monday, 26 October 2020



Denying the digital journo

Swapnil Bharali | October 16, 2018 13:01 hrs

Himanta Biswa Sarma uses it. Sarbananda Sonowal uses it too. In fact, it was started by Narendra Modi in one sense. A national election was won based on its usage. And yet, the state government with its myopic vision just refuses to recognize the importance of digital media in the current context of time. All rhetoric of the Prime Minister in extending digital empowerment to every nook and corner of India stands defeated by the BJP-led government in Assam which is either painfully unaware of Modi’s stance or is deliberately out to gag the digital media in Assam.



Given the huge challenges that include poor network etc, the digital media has just started flowering in Assam and in several instances has displayed the power that it can unleash in disseminating information and news rapidly. Yet and very strangely, the Department of Information & Public Relations (DIPR) of Assam has refused to give accreditation to the state’s digital journalists.



On September 20 last, the Assam State Press Accreditation Committee, in a meeting presided over by Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Additional Chief Secretary, who is also the chairperson of the committee, had cleared the names of 160 journalists for recognition/accreditation. Rather strangely, there was not even a single digital media journalist on that list. Accreditation or recognition by the DIPR bears a great deal of importance for any journalist working in Assam as without the press accreditation cards, the corridors of power – the state secretariat - and other high-security zones become restricted. The summary denial of issuing the accreditations to digital journalists is a direct signal of how lightly the state government continues to regard digital media.

From what can be inferred, the DIPR continues to cling on to the virtually defunct Assam Press Correspondents (Accreditation/ Recognition) Rules, 1989, which has no provision for digital media simply because it did not exist then. And so, by denying accreditation to digital media journalists, the government may well have been on the right side of the law and yet has only shamelessly exposed itself of its inadequacies in keeping abreast of modern times. The most shocking part is that it has simply refused to toe the line thrown by its supreme leader – the Prime Minister. No wonder Assam continues to lag behind.

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