National Press Day Celebrated

Shillong, Nov 16: Along with the rest of the country, National Press Day was observed in the capital city, Shillong at a programme organized by the Shillong Press Club with active support of the Directorate of Information and Public Relations at Shillong Club in the city today.

This year’s celebration was attended by Meghalaya Information & Public Relations Minister, A L Hek as Chief Guest in the presence of Founder President, Shillong Press Club, Manas Chaudhuri, Director, Information and Public Relations, B S Sohliya, Joint Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, Information and Public Relations Department P M Sangma, memers of the Shillong Press Club, government officials and members of the Press Fraternity.

During his address at the programme, Meghalaya Information and Public Relations Minister , A L Hek stated that as the fourth pillar of democracy, the role of the media has gained greater significance in an era where consumption of information continues to grow, both in urban areas as also in the far flung rural pockets of the State and Country, not only in print and audio-visual form, but also in digital form through various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and many alternative media and added that the ‘Fourth Estate’ serves as a facilitator, protector and enabler of democratic institutions and processes as it is an important component in the fabric of a functional democracy.

Speaking on the theme of this year’s celebration, “Reporting- Interpretation- A Journey”, the ministerspoke of the numerous challenges that the press fraternity face in respect of making a choice of determining responsibly on what to report, how to report and when to report so that the shared information can have a more positive impact and neutralize the elements that can harm the basic fabric of our nation while also stating that the challenges also include that of preserving the freedom of the press while not allowing it to be contaminated by biasness, pre-conceived or ill-intended reporting, gender based and communal misrepresentation, and evolution of an inclusive society to affirm the safety and security of media persons. In an era of fake news and misinformation, especially in the realm of social media, the minister called upon the press fraternity to play a proactive role by giving more prominence to positive stories emanating from the efforts of the Government, various other institutions and stakeholders to facilitate better understanding of the positive interventions aimed at the overall welfare of the citizens of the state and the country.

He also spoke of new media and the fact of how it has brought about a convergence between traditional, audio-visual, digital and social media and it, having become a powerful means for shaping the ideas, aspirations and behaviour of the people, even in the remotest corners of the country even as he emphasized that the media is entrusted with added responsibilities which entails them to monitor issues pertaining to public interest and giving voice to the marginalized in their efforts to shape and influence public opinion by providing objective and balanced coverage of news.

The minister also stated that the government has made considerable efforts in addressing the issues and concerns of media persons in the State of Meghalaya and more significantly in terms of financial assistance to the accredited journalists through the Journalist Welfare Scheme and informed that the government is in the process of initiating ways and means to introduce the Pension Scheme for retired working journalists of Meghalaya and also to enhance the corpus of the Journalist Welfare Scheme for the benefit of local accredited working journalists.

During the programme, an Interactive Session on the theme of the celebration was held in which Founder President, Shillong Press Club, Manas Chaudhuri, and Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times , Rizaul Hassan Laskar were the resource persons.

Senior journalists who have rendered their services in the field of journalism for more than twenty five years were felicitated during the programme and prizes for the carrom board, basketball and football competitions held as part of this year’s celebration were also distributed to the winners.

It may be mentioned that National Press Day is celebrated on 16th November each year across the country and the day is symbolic of free and responsible press and is observed throughout the country by holding seminars, workshops, discussions, etc on topics relating to the press.

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