THE National Alliance of Journalists and the Delhi Union of Journalists have jointly addressed a letter to members of parliament on February 3 voicing various concerns and demands and urging their active intervention to save journalism and journalists for tomorrow.
The letter said that it is a plea to save journalism and the journalists for tomorrow in view of increasing physical attacks and deteriorating service conditions and a virtual hire and fire atmosphere despite a statutory Working Journalist Act. Add to it, the deteriorating conditions in the electronic media which have no protection whatsoever, and are caught in a wave of layoffs with little remedy. Cross media holdings, contracts, voucher payments, an increasing army of freelancers and moffusil correspondents, mostly surviving on pittance of wages, along with the stranglehold of a national and international monopoly press, and virtual killing of surviving medium papers and journals add to the woes.
The following are the issues that were brought to the notice of the MPs:
1. That a wage board is overdue with the Majithia Wage Board constituted way back in 2007 that was made applicable from 2011. Therefore it is a primary demand that a new wage board be constituted without further delay.
2. Taking in view the plight of electronic media employees, the Working Journalists Act be made applicable to them too and early steps be taken to end the wave of hire and fire which has caught on there also.
3. That the said Wage Board also take into account the plight of press workers in the electronic media just as the wage boards’ take into account the plight of the press workers of the print.
4. Non-implementation of previous wage board should be made a cognisable offence.
5. Simultaneously, the new Wage Board be given a time-line for formulating its recommendations and its implementation with an express provision for continuous hearings and in any case for interim relief within a period of two years.
6. It is time for a pension scheme to be implemented all over the country for both the journalists and press workers of both the electronic and print media broadly on the lines of the Kerala model.
7. A model media commission be instituted to look into the state of the entire media taking in view the present media realities – an improvement on the first and second Press Commissions appointed more than four decades ago.
8. It is high time that the present outdated Press Council should be replaced by a wide-spectrum media council taking in view the present realities. Many suggestions of the past two decades already are there before the various authorities in the government.
9. The National Alliance of Journalists and the DUJ express deep concern at the growing attacks on journalists in the country and killings of journalists which are only growing by the day. It is urged that the government of India provide protection through legislation to working journalists in print and broadcast media, on par with government employees on duty, which will reduce attacks on journalists at the field level.
NAJ and DUJ have expressed shock that even the national budget has nothing to offer amidst reports of moves to scuttle any future wage board and little by way of concrete moves to save the Working Journalists Act for tomorrow and to extend it to the booming non-print media.