Journalism under Duress: Mission to Speak Truth to Power
The Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) held its Annual Meet at Ashir Bhavan, Kochi, Kerala from September 22 to 24, 2023. The highly participative meet, which brought together Christian journalists and others, included the National Convention of Christian Journalists, a function in which three outstanding journalists were presented with the ICPA awards and the 59th Annual General Body Meeting of the Association. At the conclusion of the Meet, the members stated:
We, the members of the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA), celebrate this year 2023, the Diamond Jubilee of our organization.
We thank God for the vision and the commitment of our founder, Jesuit Fr. John Barrett, who, sixty years ago in 1963, was convinced of the need and importance of the Catholic press to protect and promote values enshrined in the Gospels and in the Constitution of India. We also gratefully acknowledge the significant contributions of several of our pioneers and path-breakers, who were trailblazers in the field of journalism and writing, who continue to inspire and motivate us today.
Some eminent personalities provided us with insightful inputs. They challenged us to be more courageous and relevant journalists in today’s India. They focussed on the theme of our 28th National Convention of Christian Journalists ‘Journalism under Duress: Mission to Speak Truth to Power.’ The underlying note by all is that the freedom of the Press is sacrosanct and journalists have the obligation to report truth without fear. Besides, since media is the fourth pillar of democracy, journalists have the
responsibility to speak the truth primarily to the people, since they are the real agents of change.
The Diamond Jubilee souvenir, a 180-page book on the theme, was also released. It is a compilation of a wide range of articles written by media experts and journalists which highlight the need, importance and urgency of authentic journalism today. It also contains a detailed history of the ICPA since its inception. A precious volume indeed to challenge us and all journalists and to direct our journey ahead.
We continue to lament the painful fact that India has reached an abysmal depth in the World Press Index 2023, ranked 161 out of 180 countries. We, therefore, have an added responsibility to speak truth to the powerful and to the people. In an era when populism, polarisation and post-truth are gaining the upper hand, we, as Catholic journalists, are called to do all we can to set the record straight and ensure justice, reconciliation, harmony and peace for all. India today needs our uncompromising voice from Kerala to Kashmir, from Manipur to Haryana as never before. We pledge to do so without fear or favour.
One of our speakers reminded us of the words of John Milton, who in his Areopagitica writes, “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” For us, in the ICPA, that is without doubt, the way forward.
Ignatius Gonsalves Suresh Mathew
Dated: 24 September 2023