New Delhi/Hyderabad, April 9 (IANS) Several journalists’ bodies in the country have reacted with dismay to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s suggestion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban governmental advertisement spending in mass media, as part of austerity measures, and that these funds be diverted for fighting COVID-19 instead.
The prospect of such a easure further affecting the revenues of the media, particularly the print media, has sparked alarm in the media fraternity.
In a statement issued by Indian Journalists Union (IJU) on Thursday, several media professionals’ associations termed the suggestion as “completely myopic and lacking in reason”.
Speaking to IANS, IJU President K. Sreenivas Reddy contended that apart from destroying small newspapers, such a move will affect the information flow in times of crisis. “Don’t they want credible news to be circulated among the people? Should the people rely on social media? Such a move will impact the flow of news to the people,” he said.
Signatories to the statement, which include the Press Association (PA), Indian Journalists Union (IJU), National Union of Journalists (NUJ-I) and Working News Cameramen’s Association (WNCA), opine that such a move will undermine the role of the media at this crucial juncture when the Covid-19 crisis is already dealing a body blow to the print media in the country.
“The effects of the ravaging pandemic has put the media industry, particularly print media, under severe financial stress and several newspapers have already suspended printing. Many journalists across the country have lost jobs due to this crisis. Stopping advertisements to the media at this juncture would blow death knell to the industry, the role of which is very crucial in the fight against the deadly infection”, they said.
The suggestion to halt government ads to media was one fo the five suggestions put forth by Sonia Gandhi during the Prime Minister’s outreach initiative to opposition party leaders on measures to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.