Shillong: The Shillong Press Club (SPC) on Thursday condemned the remarks made by Nongkrem MLA and VPP President, Ardent M Basaiawmoit, for his ‘paid media’ comments during his recent speech at a party gathering in Pynursla.
Describing Basaiawmoit’s remarks as”baseless allegations” and “unsavoury” the SPC, in a statement signed by its President, David Laitphlang, and General Secretary, Powell Sohkhlet, stated, “It is unfortunate for an experienced legislator to level baseless accusations against the press fraternity while presenting fake news and, more tragically, insinuating that journalists in the State are succumbing to the paid news syndrome, as seen elsewhere.”
“It is also shocking to hear him publicly tell people that the media only covers VPP events to pinpoint and identify faults and lacunae in the party’s affairs. The SPC would like to remind Basaiawmoit that a journalist’s sworn duty and mandate are to gather information, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, based on facts and not rumors or gossip,” the statement said.
“The SPC would like Basaiawmoit to clearly state whether the VPP expects only information and news that portrays the party in a positive light or if the VPP would prefer only those who may fall under the bracket of his accusations to cover the party’s future events,” the statement added.
The SPC also reminded Basaiawmoit that the positive results of the party in the recently concluded Assembly elections should largely be attributed to substantial and continuous media coverage across all media platforms.
“Does that indicate that all the journalists covering VPP events in the run-up to the elections were paid or solicited or induced in any form to generate four Assembly seats for a new political entity in the political spectrum of the State?” it asked.
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The SPC also demanded to know the names of the journalists who have erred in the discharge of their professional duties through unfair means, “as making a blanket accusation goes against the spirit of free and fair journalism, which the SPC and all media houses in Meghalaya have endeavored to pursue to the fullest.”
“Making a blanket accusation is not only foolhardy but also constitutes defamation against the journalist fraternity of Meghalaya. Hence, an adequate clarification and apology are immediately sought. Failing to provide this, the SPC will be compelled to take recourse to other appropriate measures,” the statement concluded.
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