[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ow free is ‘freedom of the press’ in Nagaland? Journalists in the state work under tense situation. Very often the ‘shooting the messenger’ cases are witnessed in the state. We often hear media persons are either harassed if not physically assaulted. Often media houses also receive phone calls from certain quarters abusing why certain press notes are not entertained or why the particular programme was not in the front page. Some elements even go to the extent of taking up lawsuits against the media houses.
This farcical development has been attributed to lack of common sense. Journalists are public messengers. You cannot blame them for bringing the bad news. They are informing the day today affairs to the public. Do you blame the postman for delivering a letter that contains the sad demise of your brother? Or, do you also sue your doctor after you have been diagnosed with cancer? You never break your television set after the broadcaster announced the candidate you supported got defeated? It is as plain as this—we are the messengers informing the people on the daily happenings. We report on flood but we are not responsible for the flood. We file stories on bad roads but we did not spoil those roads. Newspapers do carry news along with photos on traffic jam but journalists are few in number and we can never be held responsible for the traffic problem.Freedom of the press means that one has the liberty to publish their writings without legal or political restrictions or censorship. However, it does not mean that any news item can be published. Media houses know which items are publishable. It is the prerogative of the media houses when comes to the choice of news items. News items detrimental to the society are given a second thought before being published.
One can be reminded that restrictions on the activities of the journalists are “associated with closed tyrannical states while most democratic countries are moving toward more publication liberty.”