In memory of Surendra Pratap Singh*
About the helpline|
The Hoot launches a helpline for all those who work in the media, as well as those who use it and are affected by it.
It will have a two-pronged approach. First, it will respond to media professionals who face intimidation, harassment, threats or assaults in the course of their work. Second, it will respond to complaints from readers, viewers or Internet users. These could relate to the following: the misuse of the media through unethical practices like paid news, blackmail or extortion, the failure of in-house (within media companies) complaints redressal mechanisms, such as the refusal of media houses to publish letters to the editors voicing legitimate grievances against published or broadcast news, or the refusal of television channels to address complaints regarding fairness of treatment, violation of privacy, or defamatory coverage.
*In memory of S P Singh, magazine editor, broadcaster, creator of Aaj Tak on Doordarshan before it became a news channel. He created a popular Hindi idiom for TV news, and was a role model for many younger journalists. He passed away in June 1997. The Hoot has been supported in its early years by the S P Singh Foundation.
Helpline for journalists
The Hoot launches a helpline for media professionals who face any obstruction in the course of their work. As journalists, we are under threat from the state and from vigilante groups or political groups. We are in danger when we seek to investigate and uncover wrong-doings; we face threats, intimidation, attacks, even death for the work we do.
In 2010 alone, there were 37 attacks on journalists including a killing, 14 arrests, detention or charges against journalists and six instances of attacks on writers and civil liberties activists. In 2011, the situation worsened with the killing of three journalists - Umesh Rajput in Chhattisgarh, J Dey in Mumbai and Mohammed Akram in New Delhi. At least 17 others have been attacked in the last six months.
Our freedom to publish or broadcast is further constricted by laws that can restrict and block any electronic communication that has the potential to offend for the flimsiest of reasons. Already, 11 websites have been blocked by the government.
Our helpline is listing below, for the use of journalists who may need them, several contact points for help from legal and human rights workers.
Further, we are providing an email id and telephone no. linked to a computer, where you can record a message in Hindi or English. We will track these messages at regular intervals.
Anyone can make a complaint or register their grievance with the helpline and this will be responded to on a case-by-case basis.
MEDIA REDRESSAL FORUM FOR CITIZENS
This helpline will also respond to complaints from readers, viewers or Internet users on
a) the misuse of the media through unethical practices like paid news, blackmail or extortion;
b) the failure of in-house (within media companies) complaints redressal mechanisms like the refusal of media houses to publish letters to the editors voicing legitimate grievances against published or broadcast news. Or the refusal of television channels to address complaints regarding fairness of treatment, violation of privacy, or defamatory coverage.
As readers and viewers, our trust in the media is severely eroded by corruption within the media, paid news, the business and political interests of media houses or by unscrupulous and unethical practices, including blackmail or extortion. Incorrect reportage, blatant bias or misrepresentation is increasingly affecting the quality of journalism and readers or viewers who seek redressal may not always get justice or a fair hearing from media houses they complain against.
In this situation our helpline will provide a voice and a platform for the registration of complaints to set in motion a process of self-correction. If the complaints are found to have merit they will be forwarded to individuals in the media house concerned, the Editors Guild, the Press Council, of the self regulatory authorities set up by TV channels’ associations.
Please use the email id and phone number provided to register your complaint. Complaints can also be publicized and information about these will be disseminated as widely as possible so that awareness is generated on the issue raised by the complaint.
How it will work
Please record your complaints, and contact nos at this number. It is linked to a computer.
Telephone no. 9560259820
Or write to this Email id : email@example.com using the complaints format given below.
STATEWISE HELPLINE DIRECTORY
This state-wise directory comprises lawyers and legal aid organisations, human rights activists and human rights organisations, journalists and journalists’ organisations. The Hoot has contacted them about the helpline and sought their assistance and involvement.
If any area or state is as yet unrepresented and if you or anyone you know would be interested in joining this network, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
List of abbreviations in the Directory
HRLN : Human Rights Law Network – a human rights and legal aid organisation, India
ALF : Alternative Law Forum – a legal aid services and advocacy organisation, Bengaluru
PUDR : People’s Union for Democratic Rights – a civil liberties’ organisation, New Delhi
PUCL: People’s Union for Civil Liberties – a civil liberties’ organisation, India
NPMHR : Naga People~s Movement for Human Rights, New Delhi
CPDM : Committee for Protection of Democracy, Manipur
MASS : Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti, Assam
JKCC : Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Jammu and Kashmir
COHR : Committee on Human Rights, Manipur
LHS : Lokshahi Haaq Sanghatana, Mumbai
CPDR : Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai
APDR : Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Kolkata
PDF : People’s Democratic Front, Bengaluru
A to D
Andaman & Nicobar (UT),Andhra Pradesh,Arunachal Pradesh, Assam,Bihar,Chandigarh (UT), Chhattisgarh,Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT),Daman and Diu (UT),Delhi (UT)
G to L
Goa,Gujarat,Haryana,Jammu and Kashmir,Jharkhand,Karnataka,Kerala,Lakshadweep (UT)
M to W
MadhyaPradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Puducherry (UT), Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal
List of organisations that can receive complaints against the media:
The Press Council of India: This is a statutory, quasi judicial body which acts as a watchdog of the press. It adjudicates the complaints against and by the press for violation of ethics and for violation of the freedom of the press respectively.
Complaints may be filed in a prescribed format which can be downloaded from the Press Council website:
News Broadcasters Association : This represents 20 leading private television news & current affairs broadcasters (comprising 45 news and current affairs channels) as its members. It is an organization funded entirely by its members.
Complaints may be filed in a prescribed format which can be downloaded from its website:
Indian Broadcasting Foundation : This organization of television broadcasters consists of major broadcasters with more than 250 TV Channels. It is considered the accredited spokesperson of the broadcasting industry.
Complaints may be addressed to this organisation by downloading its complaint form available on its website:
Please note that both these organisations are run by the broadcasting industry. Hence, please ensure that your complaint is addressed to the appropriate broadcasting authority that represents the channel you have a complaint against.
International organisations that can help journalists in distress
Rory Peck Trust : This organisation supports freelance newsgatherers and their families worldwide in times of need and promotes their welfare and safety.
The Media Legal Defence Initiative: exists to help journalists and media outlets defend their rights. It works in all regions of the world to provide legal support to journalists and media outlets who seek to protect their right to freedom of expression. http://www.mediadefence.org/