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Shillong, Nov 16:

Senior journalist, Rizaul Hassan Laskar said that majority of the people has not been able to figure out how to handle digital journalism.

“We had made a crucial mistake when the internet opened up. We started giving news for free with advent of the internet,” Laskar, who is the overseas correspondent of the “The Hindustan Times” said while speaking during the interactive session on the theme “Reporting- Interpretation: A Journey” to celebrate the National Press Day here today.

He also said that looking at page views is not the right thing to do. “I am seeing people are busy chasing page views. But one should look to adopt the model of New York Times. They went behind pay wall and are not looking at how many people visiting their website. They are looking at people who comes to their website and stay at their website.  They are also getting people who are willing to pay to stay on the website,” Laskar said.

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Meanwhile, he also observed that one of the biggest challenges now is the issue of citizen journalism. “People who can write five lines and putting on the block thinks they are journalists. Journalism is a specialized profession. A journalist knows the art of collecting the information and put the story across. That is why there is a difference between a hardcore journalist and a citizen journalist,” senior journalist said.

According to him, the term citizen journalist is having a castigating effect. “People depend on information which they get to make their choices. But if people are not able to make well informed choices then democracy suffers,” he said. Moreover, Laskar also observed that interpretation journalism is also facing a huge challenge with the entry of the digital media. ‘Many of the magazines are winding up. Print media is also under pressure,” senior journalist added.

Meanwhile, Padmashree Awardee and former Editor of The Shillong Times, Manas Chaudhuri is of the view that journalists should be closer to the opposition rather than to the Government.

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“The people in the Government are having an edge since they have various forums to reach out to the people. But the opposition does not have such platform. The opposition gets the attention only when they go for a strike or a dharna. I feel that the views of the opposition get suppressed,” Chaudhuri added.

Former editor of The Shillong Times said that there is a lack of in-depth reporting on issues which concern the people.  Citing an example on the recent ordinance on the Meghalaya Resident Safety and Security Act passed by the Government, he said that there are many questions which the people are still unclear about the ordinance. According to him, the people would like to know what prompted the Government to come up with ordinance. “But these things are not reported in the newspapers,” he said.

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Speaking on the occasion, IPR Minister, Alexander Laloo Hek urged upon the journalists to report about the facts and to refrain from character assassination.

“The basic role of the media is to report facts. There is no justification for the media to adopt the tactic of character assassination,” Hek said.

On the occasion, the Shillong Press Club also felicitated senior journalists who have cross 25 years above in the profession.

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