Withdraw ‘Gag’ on Media Freedom: Editors Guild to Finance Minister
The Editors Guild o India on Wednesday, 10 July, described the restrictions by Finance Ministry on the entry of media persons into North Block as a “gag” on media freedom and urged Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to withdraw the “arbitrary decision.”
A clarification issued by the office of the finance minister on Tuesday, 9 July said that a procedure has been put in place for “streamlining and facilitating” the entry of media persons inside the Ministry and “no ban is in place” on the entry of media persons in the ministry.
‘A Blanket Order Isn’t The Answer’
The guild, in a statement, said that it has no dispute with the ministry that journalists should behave with restraint and responsibility while enjoying their access to the finance ministry, but a blanket order is not the answer.
"Journalists do not go to government offices to enjoy the comforts and hospitality of visitors' rooms designated for them. They go to perform their challenging job of news gathering," it asserted.
The Guild added, “If the finance minister believes that journalists' access to government offices is causing some inconveniences, the system could be improved in discussions with journalists.”
The Guild has also urged Nirmala Sitharaman to reconsider her decision and withdraw it.
As a precedence, North Block, the seat of the finance ministry, was only out of bounds for journalists during the pre-budget quarantine period, which was about two months.
However, even after the presentation of 2019-20 Budget on 5 July, security personnel manning the gates of the ministry were not allowing the entry of journalists, without appointment, even the Press Information Bureau-accredited ones.