Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Mumbai Press Club publishes open letter regarding workplace harassment in media houses

On 1 March, in a press statement released by the Managing Committee of Mumbai’s Press Club, issues of harassment of journalists, particularly photographers and cameramen in media houses and newsrooms, “to generate exclusives or breaking stories”. 

The statement refers to hostile workplace conditions in such newsrooms, due to the pressure to deliver news stories as quickly as possible, usually with inadequate logistical support and a shortage of manpower.

Furthermore, the death of a journalist at a Mumbai-based daily recently is an exemplification of the mounting pressure in such newsrooms. The committee condemns the generation of breaking news based on fear, public humiliation and other “unethical practices” which they claim are running rampant in media houses today. The statement also refers to the resignation of a TV journalist, after his editor asked him to, “create a ruckus” during the press conference of a Congress politician. 

The statement also touches upon difficulties which are prevalent in the media industry currently, like shifting revenue models, 

“The last few years have been trying for news media. Advertising has shifted to social media and various digital formats, and newsrooms have witnessed job cuts, layoffs, and non-renewal of contracts. To counter the financial challenges, journalists are being stretched to breaking point, which has made working conditions unbearable. Unfortunately, those who are well placed to understand the changing conditions – the bureau chiefs and the editors have been found to be insensitive and even complicit in making working conditions worse.”

The open letter is concluded by urging editors to make newsrooms safer places for journalists, who can generate quality news without “fear and favour” and uphold the principles of free media.

Full statement:

Dear Editors,
This is to bring to your notice a deeply concerning trend that is seriously impacting the ‘news industry’ the harassment of journalists in newsrooms, particularly the pressure being brought to generate exclusives or breaking stories.

Journalists, including photographers and cameramen, are facing unrelenting pressure sometimes bordering on harassment and abuse – to deliver factory-style news stories on tap. This relentless demand, with sparse logistical support and a shortage of staff, often leads to an atmosphere of stress and anxiety in the workplace, which can, in turn, lead to debilitating consequences.
The recent collapse and the death of a senior reporter of a daily newspaper in Mumbai is a tragic example of this newsroom pressure to be one-up on rivals.

It is the mandate of editors to ensure readers and viewers get the news as it happens. In fact, they will not be doing their duty if they cannot motivate their teams to deliver good stories in the fastest time possible. However, this does not mean that news should be generated by instilling fear and anxiety via abuses and public humiliation. In this regard, we have been seeing a stream of unethical practices in the newsroom. For instance, the editor of a news channel asked a journalist to create a ruckus during the press conference of a Congress politician. Rather than bow to this extreme demand, the journalist put in his papers.

These practices not only undermine the health and well-being of our journalists but also compromise the quality and integrity of the news we deliver.

The last few years have been trying for news media. Advertising has shifted to social media. and various digital formats, and newsrooms have witnessed job cuts, layoffs, and non- renewal of contracts. To counter the financial challenges, journalists are being stretched to breaking point, which has made working conditions unbearable. Unfortunately, those who are well placed to understand the changing conditions the bureau chiefs and the editors have been found to be insensitive and even complicit in making working conditions worse.
Journalists play a crucial role in upholding the principles of a free press and keeping the public informed. However, when they are subjected to harassment and undue pressure in the workplace, their ability to perform their duties effectively is severely hindered, and their health also gets affected.

spot_img

Don't Miss

Related Articles