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Kashmir CM’s journalism lessons

Srinagar, Friday, August 11, 2012:

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday attacked Kashmir media for struggling to differentiate between news and views.

“This is something most newspapers (in Indian administered Kashmir) are struggling with,” Abdullah said at the launch of the local edition of a Chandigarh based newspaper Tribune. “They are either the victims of paid news or victims of their own sense of importance.”

Criticizing media on reporting, the Essex-born Hotel Management graduate Abdullah said: “What you read is actually not what is happening but it is the perception of what is happening either in the eye of editor or worst still in the eyes of the owner of that publication.”

The region’s government recently came under criticism after an expose that it was providing advertisement support to at least 65 newspapers published from Indian administered Kashmir who had not maintained regularity as per the norms of the Registrar of the Newspapers of India and the rulebook of the region’s government.

Reports said the financial support to these newspapers publishing just four or five times a month was granted in connivance with the Department of Information in brazen violation of rules.

The chief minister asked the media to be “objective and honest” while reporting events.

In 2010, Abdullah-led government cracked down on media for reporting rights violations and alleged police brutalities.

For days together, newspapers published from Srinagar, the summer capital of the region, could not hit stands.

Even the advertisement support for local newspapers was suspended.

The local cable news channels were banned from airing newscasts and current affairs programmes.

The ban is still in vogue.

Referring to the “practice” of publication of “paid news by some newspapers”, Abdullah said a perception was being cultivated in present day journalism that views were more important than news.

“These are not welcome developments,” he said. “We observe that more space is being given to views than to the actual news flowing from all across in the garb of the perception that views are more important than news.”

Abdullah said there was a need to take a holistic view to strike the balance between the two.

According to the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), over 800 newspapers are registered in Indian administered Kashmir.

However, the region’s Information department maintains that the number is 538 of which 217 are published from Kashmir valley and 321 from Jammu.

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