Every year May 3rd is celebrated as the press freedom day. In Kashmir, because of the ongoing conflict and on and off curbs on local press, the day holds importance for journalist working here. A number of functions related to the freedom of press were held in universities across Kashmir where mass media is taught.
At one of the oldest seats of education in the valley, Kashmir University, a number of working journalists interacted with media students and shared their experiences.
Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor, a senior Journalist while sharing her experience with the students and faculty said she has seen almost all the facets of journalism.
“Whether it is complete freedom while reporting or a censored one, she has worked under both the conditions,” said Mehjoor.
Drawing parallels from recent Arab Spring, she said that social media played a big role in the revolution in Arab world. “When the media was gagged during Arab [Spring] revolution, social media sites like facebook and twitter became alternate source of information for protestors,” Mehjoor said. “When there is gag on press, alternatives are born.”
She observed that with the invention of cable television, news has become a round the clock phenomenon. However, Indian-media which is highly vocal in reporting issues concerning India, often skip stories coming from Kashmir.
“For national media, any small incident related to militancy gets prime space, while issues like fake drug scam remained largely unreported,” Nayeema sarcastically told the gathering.
Senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Rising Kashmir, Dr Syed Shujaat Bukhari said that media is not only under threat from repressive states but from conflicts across world.
“Journalists face more challenges in a conflict zone than in any autocratic states,” said Dr Bukhari, who has also served The Hindu as J&K Bureau Chief.
“In conflict ridden areas like Kashmir reporting is entirely different from what is taught in a classroom,” Bukhari told students attending the seminar.
Taking a dig at journalist, Bukhari cautioned students not to fall prey to their personal liking and disliking while reporting a story.
“Journalists should restrain themselves from using media to settle their personal scores. They should give readers what they want to read. Not the other way round,” Bukhari said, adding, “Media personnel have held journalism hostage for their self interests.”
Similar functions were held at Central University of Kashmir and Islamic University of Science and Technology.