MEMBERS OF ORISSA’S ACTIVE PRESS, THINK AFRESH

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

With a pack of owners of news media organizations, marked more for exploitation of their employees and misuse of journalism in pursuit of avarice, have constituted a state level Press Club wherein a few of the working journalists believing to be elites amongst Orissa scribes, a few of them eager to ingratiate themselves with their owners, have also joined. The outfit is named: “The Orissa Press Club”.

Code of Ethics of Journalism in vogue in this land is not addressed to the conduct of the owners of the media organization, who control journalism. So, under their active instigation, docile journalists have caused severe damages to journalism in Orissa by making many unethical compromises to net in ads.

For the professional journalists of Bhubaneswar, a Press Club contrived by the same persons for whom media in Orissa is drowned under hyper-commercialism oblivious of the ethic and role of journalism, was not a matter of no significance. They, therefore, instantly and spontaneously met in a meeting where it was decided to constitute a Press Club of Professional Journalists. On deep deliberations, it was decided to name it as Orissa Media Club. Membership thereof was open to professional journalists only, belonging to all streams of journalism from print to photo to internet. I was interested to have such a Press Club.

Why this Club was necessary?

Journalists in Orissa are betrayed by their trade unions. They are treated like the subjects were being, in erstwhile kingdoms even in the Samaja founded by great humanitarian leader Gopabandhu Das. Multi District Daily Anupam Bharat has arbitrarily closed its Bhubaneswar edition and all the journalists working in this edition have been thrown into the streets. Almost all of the working journalists are facing job crisis in Orissa. But trade unions of working journalists are conspicuous by their absence in taking up their cause.

There are two officially recognized trade unions of working journalists, namely Utkal Association of Journalists affiliated to Indian Federation of Working Journalists and Orissa Union of Journalists affiliated to National Union of Journalists, India.

Both these trade unions of working journalists are headed by persons who are not working journalists themselves.

Not a single industrial dispute is raised by any of them at least during a decade that may vouch for their trade union activities.

Working journalists in media organizations are not being paid their salaries as per Wage Board awards. Not a single case is raised by any of these trade unions against non-implementation of Wage Board Awards.

None of these trade unions have any branch in any media organization to monitor implementation of Wage Board awards therein.

When the Utkal Journalist Association has transformed its premises to a hotel hub where marriages and similar social feasts are frequently held for rents, the premises of Orissa Union of Journalists has been transformed into a commercial hub with many shops running their businesses by paying rent to its office bearers. Thus both the trade unions of working journalists have severely violated the terms and condition of allocation of Government land and are busy in none-journalistic activities while keeping their eyes closed to unfair labor practices in all the media organizations and non-payment of wages to working journalists as provided for by the Wage Boards.

Conditions of services of the working journalists stipulated under the Laws are not adhered to in any media organization. But, the trade unions whose leaders bask under the glory of their proximity to media owners and ministers and government top brasses, never bother about that.

When employment interest of working journalists thus goes unattended to by their trade unions, the ethical component of journalism is expected to be served by the Press Clubs. Therefore, building up a club for professional journalists was a necessity.

Yet another club

To my surprise, a friend who was a very active participant in the preparatory meeting of the Media Club, informed me yesterday that he and many others that had joined the preparatory meeting of the Media Club, have abandoned it because of shenanigans marked in tampering with its resolutions and deviation from the original idea of having a media club on all Orissa basis. They have revived a Press Club namely “Orissa State Press Club” that was registered in 1994 and lying dormant, he informed.

Thus, a situation has been created in Bhubaneswar where three Press Clubs have raised their heads.

In this situation, those, who have dedicated their lives to journalism, ought to be apprised of who of the organizers of these “Clubs” has how much contribution to ethics of journalism so that they can decide whether or not joining a club would be congenial to furtherance of the cause of the Press.

Needed is unity against
oligopolistic designs of media owners

The ‘Press’ in Orissa has been pushed into a pattern where the common man, on whose subscription the income of media organizations flourish, has no role in policy decisions of the media he/she subscribes to.

This scenario has to be changed. The change can come only if professional journalists unite against oligopolistic designs of the owners of the media organizations. Trade Unions have failed. A Press Club, unless addressed to this aim, would be another trapdoor for detraction from real purpose of the Press.

So, friends in Orissa’s active Press, think afresh.

Professional Journalists shall have their own PRESS CLUB

When media environment is vitiated with formation of a Club in the name of the Press by a team of owners of media industries known more for hyper-commercialism than adherence to Ethics of Journalism, professional journalists of Orissa have woken up to form a PRESS CLUB of their own.

A preparatory meeting was held for the purpose under presidentship of Sri Prasanna Kumar Mishra, Editor of the daily Sanchar on August 7 at Bhubaneswar.

Participants were clear in their opinion that “Press Club” should be a Club of professional press-persons, not a hodgepodge of users of press vanity.

Senior journalist Rabi Das, eminent columnist Prasanta Patnaik, web journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Subartta editor Pradyumna Satpathy, Resident Editor of The Telegraph Prakash Patra, Zee News bureau chief D.N.Singh, Subrata Das, Shubhashish Mohanty, K.Rabi of The Statesman, Dillip Bishoi of Financial Express, Pratap Mohanty of AFP, Debabrata Mohanty of Indian Express, Basudev Mohapatra of Nxatra TV, Secretary of National Union of Journalists Prasanna Mohanty, Debendranath Das and Ambikaprasad Kanungo of Sahana Mela, Umapada Bose and Ambika Das of Orissa Express, Akhand of India Media Centre, Sagar Satpathy of News Insite, Kedar Mishra of Anupam Bharat, Columnist SriRam Das, Subas Sarangi, Pradyumna Mohanty, Janatantra editor Vivekanand Dash, Krantidhara editor Gobinda Samal, Television journalist Durga Madhab Mishra, Ramachandi Prasad Ranasingh and Santos Tripathy of Suryaprava, Samajavadi editor Sanat Mishra, Ranjan Tripathy and Bibhuti Bhusan Rana of Orissa Times TV, Dyutikrishna Pahi and Sudhansu Patra of Live Orissa TV were active participants. Amongst others, who, because of being pre-occupied could not join, but had sent messages in support of the mission of the meet, were senior journalists Basant Das, Sampad Mohapatra, Sarada Prasanna Nanda, Jatin Das, Rajaram Satpathy, Debi Pattanayak, and Kishore Satpathy.

Eminent journalist Debendra Prusti, convener of the meeting, had initiated the discussion.

It was decided to draft a constitution for the new PRESS CLUB by a committee comprising Sri Prakash Patra (Former President of National Press Club of India), Sri D.N. Singh (Zee News) and Sri Subhas Chandra Pattanayak (orissamatters.com), under chairmanship of Sri Mishra. Sri Devendra Prusti shall remain the convener.

Mass Media is drifting away from the Masses, warns Prof. Biswaranjan

Mass media is changing into corporate-class media, which portends disaster for democracy, warned Prof. Biswaranjan while speaking on ‘Role of Mass media in present context’ in a seminar organized by Athgarh Press Club in the auditorium of B. N. Bidyapith, Athgarh on 25 November, 2012.

Prof. Biswaranjan, a political scientist who till recently was the editor of Khabar, a vernacular broadsheet major, was the Chief Speaker.

Mentioning of how the first attempt to share information with the society was made by a man of Athgarh late Sadhu Sundar Das through his unique depiction of news on sheets of bark of a plant called Bhurjapatra plant at Kujibara, Prof. Biswaranjan dwelt on contributions of media to the cause of the people, till it drifted away from the masses with the concept of market economy transforming its mission to profit motive. As an alternative, he said, neighborhood Medias with local low cost ads are evolving.

Representative-in-Chief of ORISSA MATTERS, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, as guest of honor, gave an elaborate picture of India’s present politico-economic condition in the pernicious hands of compradors in power. Expressing deep anguish over media in India increasingly becoming the rich man’s media, leading to loss of democratic prudence to mediacracy controlled by corporate houses, he called upon conscious journalists to expose the real picture of politicians that have pushed the country into ruins.

He contextually mentioned of Orissa where official welfare programs are named after Biju Patnaik when the ruling party –Biju Janata Dal – is also named after him. This trick is so vote-catching that the fraction of BJD that opposes Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, also brandishes Biju as its trade mark! This is the context in which media has a primordial role to play in order to save the State from the ruins, he observed.
Diagnosing that Orissa is in ruins by politicians using Biju Patnaik as their mask, he said, unless media dismantles this mask, the State cannot be saved from the labyrinth of misrule. He, therefore, contextually dug out from the debates of the Parliament, how India had to suffer the ignominy of defeat in 1962 Chinese aggression because of the treachery he had played against the country, for sheer personal profit, through his Kalinga Airways.

The degradation of the country has not developed in a day. Ever since independence, the politicians in power have individually and collectively contributed to its ruin. It is now time for the patriotic media persons to unmask the people in power, even if required posthumously, so that the people of the country can be saved from politico-economics disasters, he said.

In the process, there shall be clash between the corporate owners of media organizations and the working media persons. But, as a class, the media persons must act, notwithstanding how that irritates the owners of their organizations. Victory shall be theirs and of the people; not of the corporate owners of media, he envisioned.

Media trade-unionist Devi Prasanna Nayak, Sub-Editor of The Samaja, who heads the Association of its journalists and non-journalist employees, as a guest speaker said, burden of saving the people from repression, oppression and exploitation, has in every phase of the modern age been soldered by the journalists working under or with media houses. They must not falter in exposing the miscreants even if that embarrasses corporate media owners; because the people are of prime importance to journalists, not endearment with the operators.

Bijay Ketan Mishra, Resident Editor of The Political and Business Daily, as the Chief Guest, lauded the Athgarh Journalists for having come up with the Press Club, which, he was sure, would promote cultural solidarity amongst the media persons active in the area.

Earlier, before leaving for a welfare function elsewhere in the constituency, Athgarh MLA Ranendra Pratap Swain had welcomed the Press Club and lauded local journalists for having constantly acted as sentinels of public interest in the area. Focusing on evolution of different branches of journalism, he said that the responsibility of journalists has grown immensely in the present context of political and economic complexities.

The Press Club President Sarbeswar Panda presided over the function. Dinesh Das, Secretary of the Club had introduced the guests as well as the subject.
Besides members of the Club, socially active Advocates and writers of the area were also present in the function.