Imphal Times evening newspaper is registered under the Registrar for News Paper of India (RNI) and started publication after getting valid permission for publication from the District Administration. Since the launching of this paper, dedicated team members of the Imphal Times spare no pain in rendering their services to make sure that people of the state get information of their interest. Be it trade and commerce, law and order, peoples’ agitations, heinous crime against women and children, government’s policies, corruption and criticisms etc. team Imphal Times with limited staff has been trying to make sure that the information is timely served to its readers.
The idea of journalism and its utilizations never remain the same as the world keeps on changing from time to time. When Reuter started wire service in Europe it was solely for providing information of trade-related activities. When Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, Mao Se Tung, Hijam Irabot and NK Sanajaoba etc. started journalism it was for a cause. Journalism that time was a tool to wake up the slumbering common people who didn’t even know that they were being ruled and colonized by alien people. When people fail to understand about their rights entitled to each and every human, the leaders of those times used journalism to make them understand their rights.
The world has changed a lot. Unofficially there are various regions being kept as colony by superior regime. But after the non-existence of De-Colonise Committee of the United Nation, officially no region has been officially recognized as a colony by superior regimes which are members of the United Nations.
After 1987, there showed a paradigm shift of journalism and its practice. During the middle month of 2015, the world politics showed drastic change. Each and every government running their respective government, having understood the power of media are making all effort to put the media on their own pocket. The essence of patriotism that once runs through the veins of the journalists of olden days seems to have perished. Experienced journalists , not only in India but across the globe are working hand in globe with their respective government. And the situation facing today, witnessed by almost all people including those not affected by the changing media trend even understood that something is seriously wrong with the media of today , which is once considered as the fourth pillar of Democracy.
Media today is in grave danger. In conflict ridden state like Manipur and other North Eastern states of Manipur (leave aside Jammu and Kashmir) there is no guarantee to the security of media persons. When it comes to the state of Manipur, till 2000, media houses and those working in different publication received uncountable threat and intimidation either from the government (state actors) and some outlawed armed organizations for not accepting their dictate on what to publish and what not to be published. And many times it was the people of this state and particularly the civil society organizations and human rights body that came out for those working in the media houses.
Later part of 2015, the trend of civil bodies and people of the state protecting media people seem changed. When government notified order of serious action for publication of news which appeared more like a mouthpiece of the UGs, the UGs keep sending their press statements forcing the media houses to publish it or to face serious consequences if fail to do so. Now what is more worrying is that beside this two-element which is allergic to media people, another third party which once stand for the cause of fair reporting emerges.
A news item published in this newspaper on January 21 , 2020, regarding a meeting between the CSOs representatives of Manipur and the NSCN-IM Supremo at Hebron in Dimapur, was being questioned by some CSO leaders about the reason for the publication. Editor of this newspaper received two calls asking me the source of the news. Those calls were not intimidation and perhaps they might want to know from where Imphal Times get the news. The intention of the reporting was a simple attempt to let the people know that – two groups, one a civil society and another armed rebel group engaging peace talk with the government of India finally sit together for talk. Nobody knows what the members of the CSOs from Manipur and the NSCN-IM Supremo Thuingalen Muivah discussed. But sitting together presumably is a sign of good gesture.
The unfortunate part is an announcement by one Jitendra Ningombam , the media co-ordinator of the COCOMI at which he told other media houses not to publish the news item carried by Imphal Times under the heading “Differences between Manipur’s CSOs and NSCN-IM likely to end”, on the ground that the news was not authentic one. He even adviced the journalists on what news to be published and what should not be published. This confused the credibility of the Imphal Times to many of our readers. However, two days later, the President of the UCM Karam Sunil in a press meet stated that they did meet NSCN-IM Supremo Th. Muivah at Hebron.
It is alright when someone criticizes and blames newspaper or even takes up defamation case for reporting wrong information. But trying to sabotage the image of a newspaper for reporting the event that has happened is nothing but an act of intrusion to the media freedom.