The Press Club of India (PCI), Press Association, Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), and Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) have expressed deep concern over the ongoing targeted campaign against the news web portal Newsclick and its founders.
In a press statement issued on August 9, the organisations said that the recent accusations levelled by senior political figures, including some Members of Parliament, suggesting that the portal serves as a mouthpiece for a neighbouring country, are both unwarranted and condemnable.
“While Newsclick, like other media outlets, critically examines government actions, this does not render it unpatriotic or a tool of any foreign nation,” the statement said. “The portal features contributions from individuals of integrity and substance. Articles that offer critical yet appreciative perspectives on the policies of other countries should not be mistaken for advocacy on their behalf, nor should they be labelled as anti-national or seditious.”
The organisations also said that if the sources of funding for Newsclick are under scrutiny, the same transparency should extend to supporters and backers of various other portals aligned with the establishment.
“It is imperative for the interests of complete transparency that the sponsors and funding sources of all such portals be disclosed,” the statement said. “Without such disclosure, the recent actions targeting Newsclick could rightly be characterised as a witch-hunt.”
The organisations urged the government to stop the targeted campaign against Newsclick and its founders and to allow the media to operate freely and independently.
“A thriving democracy necessitates that media outlets, regardless of their affiliations, have the freedom to operate without government or corporate pressures,” the statement said. “The vitality of a democracy is inextricably linked to an independent media”.
Prabir Purkayastha, Editor-in-Chief of Newsclick, has also issued a statement, rejecting the allegations against the portal. “Over the past 12 hours, various false and misleading allegations have been levelled against Newsclick which pertain to matters that are currently sub judice before courts in India,” Purkayastha said. “We respect the sanctity of the legal process and do not intend to indulge in a media trial. The allegations being made against us by certain political actors and sections of the media are unfounded and without basis in fact or law”.
Purkayastha called on the government to stop the “witch-hunt” against Newsclick and to allow the media to operate freely and independently. “We are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism and will continue to report the news without fear or favour,” Purkayastha said. “We call on the government to stop this witch-hunt and to allow the media to operate freely and independently.”