Journalist’s action in hurling shoe unprofessional, say editors

April 7th, 2009 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) Reacting to a journalist hurling a shoe at Home Minister P. Chidambaram to vent his anguish over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, editors of various media organisations said Tuesday the act was “unprofessional” and “uncalled for”.
K.S. Sachidananda Murthy of the Editors Guild said the first advice given to journalists going out on official assignments and press conferences was to not get emotionally involved and give an unbiased report.

“We advise reporters not to get emotionally involved and disturb the decorum (of press conferences). Physical violence in public meetings is a different matter, but as journalists we have a higher responsibility. Journalists have to practise restraint over their emotions,” Murthy said.

Arati Jerath, political editor of the DNA newspaper, said the act of Dainik Jagran correspondent Jarnail Singh was uncalled for.

“At the professional level, when you go to cover an event you have to keep your emotions apart. Having said that, journalists are also human beings and from his (Singh) comments you could make out, he was very emotional about the issue,” Jerath told IANS.

“This person did not brandish a gun or a bomb. Therefore I don’t think this incident will hamper our freedom in coverage of press conferences and rallies, since elections are around the corner and security is a major issue.

“I hope security agencies don’t overreact since this was just an aberration and not a norm,” she said.

Neena Gopal, resident editor of the Deccan Chronicle, agreed that it would impinge on the media’s freedom to cover events.

“I don’t think this incident will curb our freedom in coverage of events. This incident, I think, will instead put us in bad light. As journalists, we are looked upon with a lot of respect, and this incident may hamper that.”

“I have worked in the Gulf for 30 years and coming to India was refreshing because unlike there, we are treated with so much respect. We are seen as cerebral human beings, who think logically. I just think that this incident was very disrespectful,” she added.

Jarnail Singh had flung a shoe at Chidambaram during a press conference after getting into a minor argument over the exoneration of Congress leader Jagdish Tytler by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a case dealing with the 1984 riots.

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