Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press, besides being an intrinsic good, is the sine qua non of a healthy polity and society. Free press, also referred to as the Fourth Estate in most contexts, is an essential check on power- both the nature of its use and potential abuse. Besides this irreducible function, a free functioning press is in the nature of a mirror to society. The press or the free press then has an organic relationship with society as it serves as an echo chamber and, to repeat, a mirror. This is the theory; in practice, there might be some variations to this ideal and the relationship between the press and the state then reflects this variation. However, an indicator of a healthy society and polity is the level of freedom(s) that the press enjoys under given conditions. But, in conflict zones, the nature of the press’ relationship with powers that be sometimes becomes convoluted and warped. The reason(s) pertain to the nature of the narrative and its control thereof. In conflict zones, the “who’ and “what” of narrative matters; it is sought to be guided or goaded towards certain directions. Some succumb, others yield but a very few adhere to and maintain the highest standards of journalistic propriety , ethics and morals. All this has a searing resonance in Kashmir and the media ecology and ecosystem here. Kashmir Reader is specially qualified to speak about the theme and idea of the freedom of the press because, the newspaper got caught in the crosshairs of the administration in 2016; the newspaper was banned for around three months. Kashmir Reader was faulted over commissions and omissions that the administration believed went against it. Our stance and position was and remains that we remain committed to the highest ideals of journalism and ethics thereof and we believe that we paid a price for this. Undaunted and unfazed, Kashmir Reader began another innings in its life span with the same commitment. But, alas, the newspaper continues to operate in a context and environment where it is sought to be choked. In a way , all this is a reflection of Kashmir Reader’s commitment , probity and ethics but given prosaic and obvious reasons, newspapers, at the end of the day have to survive and in a controlled context, choking newspapers through certain measures , remains the option of powers that be. Regardless, of the pressures, constraints and other “control” measures, Kashmir Reader will remain committed to ideals that animate free press and ethical, non partisan journalism. This is a conscientious commitment that we owe the people and we will remain steadfast to it.

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