A “licence” for journalists is not a ‘sine qua non’

21 August 2013

B_Id_411914_Cartoon

Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari‘s proposal for a “common examination” for journalism students, with a “licence” to practice journalism at the end, gets the full treatment (a pocket cartoon and an editorial) from the Indian Express:

“There are enough closed societies where Tewari’s suggestion would appear commonplace, where governments are unconcerned by the dilemmas and predicaments that can follow from the publishing of ostensibly objectionable material because they seek to manipulate the information that is put out in the first place, ensuring in the process that nobody may presume to speak truth to power.

“Is it his contention that India find its place among them?

“Even as Parliament makes a justified claim to keeping the internal concerns of political parties out of the purview of the right to information, given their greater import to a healthy democracy, the minister cannot be unaware of the undemocratic content in his suggestion.

“It would be pointless to allow him an evasion by accosting him with questions about the specifics, such as: In the age of mass communication, what are the activities that a journalist’s licence would control? Blogging? Tweeting? A post on YouTube? A telephone text? And such as: why and how is it an urgent task before government to keep a check on journalism schools?

“The media today are diverse in their commitment to good and responsible journalism. Suggestions like Tewari’s can be seen as attempts to meddle, and hit the slippery slope to patronage and censorship.”

On Twitter, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Rajya Sabha member who owns two news channels, Asianet News in Malayalam and Suvarna News in Kannada, too punched holes in Tewari’s proposal:

The Biju Janata Dal Lok Sabha MP, Baijayant Jay Panda, whose family owns a cable television network and OTV, a news channel in Orissa, wrote:

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Read the full editorial: Slipping on the slope

Also read: Poll: common exam, licences for journalists?

External reading: How licensing journalists threatens independent news media

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