The Newspapers of Nagaland are once again compelled to inform the public about the constant intimidation, pressure and coercion perpetuated against the fourth pillar of democracy through its media houses.
The Nagaland newspapers are the only active and functioning private enterprise in Nagaland, which continue to render public service amidst a faltering infrastructure and a corrupt system that deprives citizens of even their most basic of needs.
The newspapers have a responsibility to present, not only the sorry state of affairs in a free and open manner to enable accountability, but also provide the platform where solutions, ideas and views are elicited from all cross sections of society.
However, in the process of upholding its responsibility, the media continues to be exposed to ongoing harassment and threats by individuals and organizations that coerce the media TO PUBLISH their articles and statements. Simultaneously, there are also people who take it upon themselves to determine what the media CANNOT PUBLISH. This also involves dissuading and threatening journalists and media houses from reporting critical stories that expose ground realities of Nagaland’s situation and condition.
The Nagaland newspapers deem such methods as a grave threat where journalists’ lives and livelihoods become endangered as soft targets while performing their duties without security.
In addition to journalists, another serious issue involves the safety and security of drivers delivering newspapers who travel at odd hours while transporting newspapers through villages and towns across Nagaland. Drivers are regularly stopped, harassed and even physically assaulted by miscreants.
Such coercive methods only undermine the very purpose and existence for a free press and its role of keeping society informed, and contributing to its health and vibrancy.
All these attacks on the press threaten the entire media establishment, including all the persons who are dedicated to bringing the news to the public – its readers.
Do Nagaland newspapers have the space to exercise freedom of the press? Is the Nagaland State government even aware of its responsibility to uphold the fourth pillar of democracy?
A free press is fundamental to a democratic society and intrinsically linked to freedom of expression which is a universal human right. It is not the prerogative of the politician or the bureaucrat. Nor, is it the privilege of the journalist. It is journalists, through their day-to-day work, who are exercising every citizen’s right to free speech by seeking and circulating news, information, ideas, opinions, perspectives and comments. The press provides the public platform for diverse voices to be heard and to raise issues of accountability.
Nagaland newspapers are united and resolute in our stand against all coercions and threats in order to function freely as the fourth pillar of a democratic society. We have resolved to take a firm stand against all such attacks.
The Nagaland newspapers, therefore urge all sections of society to enable a free and vibrant fourth estate which is the only means to publicly confront all forms of political, economic and social suppression. Every citizen is responsible to ensure that the media is allowed to function freely.