Revitalizing the dream of a vibrant media complex

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Revitalizing the dream of a vibrant media complex

by Nava Thakuria

As the number of professional journalists associated with various newspapers, news channels, radio outlets, digital platforms, etc is
Increasing rapidly in Guwahati, the virtual capital of northeast India, and an emerging gateway to the strategically important Southeast Asian nations, there emerges an urgent need for a wide space for interactions with no prejudice and trepidations. At the same time,
millions of news consumers in the far-eastern region of the country also deserve a place to make the media abusers accountable for their
unprofessional work.

Nearly one thousand working journalists of the city have been demanding for decades a permanent place with necessary infrastructure
along with minimum facilities, where the media persons can assemble, discuss and resolve issues related to the medium. Now it should be the government’s turn to take a positive stand over the matter and go for a media complex/ conclave/campus in a prime location of the
prehistoric city.

The primary need of the complex will be an auditorium with around 1000 capacities with a modern sound system and other technology-oriented equipment. The multi-story auditorium should be ready for a video conference any time, where it can host important personalities like foreign country heads, acclaimed authors, illustrious journalists, etc.

For the physical presence of an individual with utmost socio-political importance, the auditorium should fulfill the security needs (like
separate entry/exit, lift, lobby with a refreshing room, etc). Along with the press conferences, the auditorium may be used for regular.
training and orientation programs for the journalists (precisely the novice scribes from different parts of Assam) to understand new trends
in the media world and its sustainability with credibility.

The complex should also include a sophisticated media centre with a sufficient number of internet-connected computer sets where the
journalists would work according to their convenience. A media archive and a research desk will be necessary. A good number of deluxe as well as economically viable lodging arrangements for the visiting journalists from different parts of Assam/Northeast/India and also
outside the country will also be needed. Arrival of journalists from other parts of the world in the complex will also help exchanging
ideas with local scribes.  

Another essential addition should be a restaurant/canteen, where the journalists and their well-wishers can hang out in a dignified ambiance and pass the quality time. No doubt, necessary parking space will have to be made inside the campus.

Press Information Bureau, the official media organ of the Union government in New Delhi may also be approached to have an area office/extension in the complex, where various pertinent issues relating to north-eastern journalists can be resolved amicably on time.
The complex may give space to all north-eastern States to showcase their tourism destinations (or any attractions they prefer) in
separate chambers. DoNER Ministry (responsible for the development of the north-eastern region)/ North Eastern Council may also be approached to use the space for pragmatic media communications. The entire complex should be designed with the concept of energy efficiency, where the sunlight, natural airflow, and open space would get due privileges. Adequate solar power generation and rainwater harvesting arrangements should exhibit the entire complex as a new model of buildings/apartments/campuses in the country.

As the media fraternity has incredibly increased its members with the inclusion of news portals, a media grievance redressal unit should
also be planned inside the complex. Needless to mention that digital platforms are yet to be recognized as mainstream media outlets in
India, but those outlets have been engaging a number of experienced journalists (who had either resigned from their traditional workplaces
or were forced to leave) and hence those journalists should not be ignored for any reason. The social media platforms have empowered
non-media users to a larger extent, but they too need accountability against the misuse and abuses. Once a redressal unit is established,
the common people can complain there against any scribe or media outlet, which does not follow the Constitution of India and the laws of
the land. While self-regulation has been emphasized all the time for professional journalists, the redressal forum would remind them to
think about necessary introspections aiming to maintain transparency and accountability in the profession.

Finally, and most importantly the complex should give space to the city-based press clubs, recognized journalist associations, media
house owner-editors’ forum, etc to run their offices independently.

The beneficiary organizations may be levied with a nominal amount of money for the overall maintenance of the complex. Leaving aside the
government support from time to time, the managing committee should generate funds for its own survival. Its management board should
incorporate representatives from the information & public relations department, civil administration, police authority,
medical-engineering-environment sectors, along with the mainstream media outlet owners, editors, reporters, news-desk employees,
and photo-visual journalists, media columnists, etc. Any organization, which runs its office from the complex, may opt for a bigger campus as
and when it feels necessary, and there should  be no bar for members of the particular organization to generate resources for their
expected project.
While the proposed complex will nurture the long pending expectations for hundreds of honest, dedicated and committed journalists to have an autonomous institution with the mandate to promote professionalism and excellence in journalism, it will also help Gauhati Press Club along with other media organizations to have a permanent address. The said press club, which is functioning from the Ambari archaeological site, needs to be shifted so that the richest archaeological site can be accommodated for necessary preservation and research works.

Situated in the heart of Guwahati (under Kamrup-metro district),  the site has been excavated several times since 1968 to find more archaeological remains. Discovered in the course of constructions for the Reserve Bank of India’s office in the locality, the site attracts visitors from different parts of the country. The archaeology department claims that the ruins of Ambari reflect the period of Sunga-Kushana dynasty. It continues sending letters to the press club committee to leave the site as well as the district administration to take necessary actions, but in vain. Need not to clarify that Gauhati Press Club today does not enjoy the privilege of representing all professional journalists
in the city, rather the present committee faced serious allegations of facilitating media space to a banned armed militant leader. A police
complaint was also lodged against the present press club president and secretary for initiating a virtual press briefing with the Ulfa
military chief last year.

The State government in Dispur should serve the purpose of all professional journalists and it will not be fulfilled with allocation of resources to Gauhati Press Club alone. It can adopt a firm policy where the Ambari site will be made encroachment-free as well as the entire media fraternity would own a modern media hub dedicated to uplift their professional excellence very soon.

About Post Author

Editor Desk

Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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