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Editors, reporters, newspaper hawkers: All under threat in Manipur
The fourth state in Manipur is under big threat from various circles within the state. It would not be surprising if newspapers fail to reach its readers, but, here upon, it is very important for the locals in Manipur to get their daily dose of news. Hence, there is a serious need to promote online news coverage at a time, when newspapers are out of reach.

 

Without a newspaper in front,
Morning tea tastes bitter.
Without a newspaper at hand,
Some can't even defecate.
Without a newspaper to glimpse,
Some deny the onset of noon even at 1.00 pm.
Without a newspaper to glance at,
Many feel the earth stops its rotation.
By halting the stream of news,
Where your image will be shadowed?
Since newspapers do act,
As mirrors of the society.
 

James Meitei awakes when the world sleeps, works in the dark on the streets. With a bicycle handled by the left hand, he used to drop newspapers door to door in quick succession with his right hand. He rides in speed from one gate to the other, as even the dogs hesitate to bark at him. He earns fifty paise on every drop and feeds a family of four.

Unfortunately, James has not been in work for a week or so, as a certain underground group has issued diktats to newspaper hawkers not to distribute news copies.

A group reportedly put a halt on publication of local newspapers, as the editors refused to publish its press release. Since the editors defied the ban, the group turned to hawkers who simply picked and dropped the papers at the doorsteps of the readers.

Hawkers braved rains, darkness and all other sorts of hardships to earn small pennies everyday out of their business. In fact, they had nothing to do with the contents of the newspapers. Then why this threat to hawkers?

Pressure on media has received a new trend in Manipur. Not only the editors and reporters, but also the newspaper hawkers have become targets of threats from various groups.

For the first time in history, the newspaper editors came out to sell the copies of their papers as the newspaper distributors abandoned their duties due to threat to their lives. The editors were compelled to ferry papers to feed their readers. At the same time, the Manipur government provided security cover to the media houses.

These bizarre happenings in Manipur clearly shows that media is under the highest pressure in the state. The liberty of press is at stake. Other than Roti-Kapada-Makaan, information has today become the fourth basic necessity of mankind. Likewise, media is the fourth basic requirement of modern democracy other than Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.

Citizens take part in governance in modern democracy by electing their representatives for a certain period. It is the ardent requirement of a representative democracy that its people are well conversed with what their representatives are doing. Those in government also need to know what their people want to do.

An independent media serves both the purposes - to inform the people of what the government is doing and to report to the government, what its people want and have to say. In the same way, media acts as a bridge between the public and the various organizations/groups.

Without media, the distance between the governed and the governors, as well as among the people themselves, will become too wide to bring in smooth governance. The frequent news updates on the Internet will keep the citizens refreshed, up-to date and active in democratic governance.

Media unites people around the globe. The world has been reduced to a small village by means of various channels of communication. Barring differences of language, culture, race and nationalities, people everywhere can share and react to any eventuality happening in the nook and corner of the earth in no time.

The human race has become closer to one another via the media. Media today is also keeping a strong vigil on the misdeeds, commissions and omissions of individuals, organizations and governments everywhere.

Scandals and scams can not escape the eyes of the media. The power of media has become so strong that it can nurture, overthrow and correct various regimes around the world. The society that neglects the importance of media will never prosper in any field.

Media is a very important institution. On many serious occasions and eventualities, entry of media persons is not restricted. They are known to play a bridging role among the people, government and organizations in democracy. On the other side of the story, increasing importance of media has invited pressures and threats from various circles.

As many groups feel the inevitable role of media in accomplishing their works, they try to win the media to their sides. Hence, at times various organizations develop scuffles with the media on various occasions. Media persons or organizations are destined to face the wraths of numerous groups for no fault of theirs.

However, such stalemates do not often exist long with the intervention of civil society organizations and pressure groups in democratic societies. In the present crisis over media in Manipur, the civil society groups need to come out and explore remedies on behalf of the society as a whole.

On the other side, the online news coverage and citizen journalism are required to be promoted to feed the newspaper-starved readers. Even though newspaper distribution is disturbed for days, the online edition will carry it to the whole world. Even if the newspaper's hard copy does not reach the readers, the online news is always on the web.

The online media can hardly be obstructed. In Manipur, where the local newspaper publication and distribution are often disturbed for various reasons, the importance of online media has increased considerably.

Moreover, online media promotes citizen journalism, where all citizens have the opportunity to express their views and feedbacks on a variety of news. Citizen journalism carries the voice of the voiceless. Not only the journalists, columnists and professional writers, but also the laymen have a say on state issues via the Citizen Journalism.

Of course, some of the local newspapers have their online editions and popular websites like the E-pao.net, Kanglaonline.com, Gomanipur.com and Manipuronline.com are disseminating online news throughout the globe. However, we do not get enough amount of online news updates. The state needs news sites which can provide frequent news updates on Manipur to cater to the needs of enthusiastic readers.

With the onset of Information Technology revolution, the media managers of the state need to embrace the opportunities of the Internet to disseminate news and views. This will serve the news consumers more and more in times of obstructions and pressures. 

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