Since the announcement of the General Elections to the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assemble scheduled on Februarys 27, every mechanism involved with the conduct of the election process are on the move. With the Model Code of Conduct in effect in Nagaland, the Chief Electoral Office along with almost all the sixteen districts headed by the respective Deputy Commissioner & District Election Officer have activated the necessary bodies and sent out the obligatory information to the general public. Right from the beginning, the preparations are intensive, measuring by the number of orders, notifications and updates the newspapers and other media houses are receiving on this matter. It automatically establishes and enhances the importance of media in the functioning of the Government.
While the state and district level committees, and other bodies directly involved with the election process are imparted with thorough preparatory trainings and workshops, the media houses and journalists in Nagaland are left on their own to get ready for the same election. There has been negligible attempt on the part of the State government to educate and empower the press in Nagaland on something as important at the General Election. This attitude changes the meaning of how important the role and contribution of media is to the Government.
So far, there has been report of just one day media workshop on the theme related to the press which was held at the State capital, Kohima on January 21, 2023. In his address, the Deputy Commissioner of Kohima cited examples of his own experiences with elections in Nagaland. He expressed regret that ‘We don’t have a system of transparency where these things come to light and we can take quick actions and we can take care of the culprits and we can actually advise the people that it is wrong.’ Here the officer positioned media at the centre by stating, “There comes in the importance of media… media’s role is to do constructive criticism and ethical reporting in various situations and your reporting should not limit only to the poll date.” The same report says that the technical sessions were conducted on the topics of ‘Checking misinformation especially in social media during elections’ and ‘Dos & Don’ts of Election Reporting- An ECI perspective.’
In Nagaland, speaking for the print media, just a few are placed in the position and with the resources to conduct workshops and trainings to prepare the organisation and its human resources for an important event such as the General Election. Sometimes the expectations from the Government, society and the people on the press in Nagaland are unrealistic. To assume that the press does not require preparation, and to expect that press is always prepared is a myth. For this election, the affirmations to the press in Nagaland should look like trainings and preparing them with the tools of ethical reporting, guidelines of election reporting, countering misinformation and most importantly support fair and efficient disclosure of information to journalists covering elections.
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