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Featured Image: PCI chairman (centre) speaking at a session at Kolkata Press Club on Monday.

Kolkata: Press Council of India (PCI) chairman, retired justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, has urged the media to make a distinction between the killing of a journalist for journalistic work and for other reasons while emphasising that slain Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh was more an activist.

Lankesh, the editor of Kannada weekly Lankesh Patrike, was shot dead by assailants in Bangalore on 5 September this year, resulting in a massive outrage all over.

“So far as Gauri Lankesh is concerned, she was more an activist than a journalist. She was a journalist, she had certain passions and therefore, she used to write. But as I said earlier, killing of anybody is sad. It must be investigated and the culprits must be brought to justice,” the PCI chairman said responding to a query whether he thinks the assassination is an indication of journalism being under threat in India.

The query surfaced during a session on Media Ethics – Contemporary Issues that was held at Kolkata Press Club today in the honour of Sumit Sen, the late resident editor of Times of India in Kolkata.

Retired justice Prasad said that while reporting any such assassination, reporters should make a distinction between the killing of a journalist for journalistic work and that for other reasons.

He cited two examples from Rajasthan and Jharkhand wherein the PCI found out in its inquiry that the journalists were killed for non-journalistic reasons. But the incidents were headlined by newspapers as the killing of a journalist.

“Killing of any individual, journalist or non-journalist is sad. But we mix up and we have mixed up in many cases.”

“Kindly make a distinction. It gives a very bad name to the country. I appeal to the journalist community, kindly make a distinction, because the impact becomes very very different,” he urged.

The PCI chairman maintained that journalism in India, these days, is not under any threat from outside elements. “The threat is from within, if you understand what I mean,” indicating at the willful bowing down by media outlet owners before corporates and politicians.

“I emphasise that there shall be a conflict between journalists and the establishments. Because media need to tell the truth and such conflicts are good for democracy,” he underscored.

On a different note, retired justice Prasad said that the PCI is “greatly concerned by the financial instability of journalists” and has been planning a welfare scheme without government support.

“But the problem is that there is no mechanism to know the exact number of journalists in India. Then there is the issue: should there be a minimum qualification for a journalist. At present there is nothing like that and the media must ponder on this,” he said.

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