New Delhi: Editors Guild of India Wednesday termed Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari's suggestion of licensing journalists as an "undemocratic" practice and said it is a tool of totalitarian states to control the media.
"The reporting of facts and the expression of ideas is the right of every citizen and to require the passing of a test and the possession of a licence issued by the government would be a violation of the very concept of freedom," N Ravi, President of Editors Guild of India, said in a statement.
He said Tewari's suggestion that journalists should be tested and licenced to practice the profession, like doctors and advocates, "is a recipe for the total state control of media".
"In this age of citizen journalists, bloggers and social media and internet users, it would be ridiculous to introduce any restriction on who should practise journalism even if it were possible to enforce it," Ravi said.
Tewari had suggested on Monday that the media industry
should consider holding a common examination for journalists, on the lines of those conducted by the Bar Council, after which journalists could be given license to pursue the profession.
Ravi said the right to freedom of expression was guaranteed under Article 19(1) of the Constitution and it was open to every citizen to practice it through the media subject only to restrictions on the grounds specified in Article 19(2).
"People with varying qualifications, ideas and interests should be allowed unrestricted access in the exercise of their right to free speech through the media," he said, adding the media deals with the whole gamut of issues touching on the society--from political, economic and social issues to health, religion, art, literature, cinema, music and travel.
He said unlike the professions of law and medicine, "there was no fixed or identifiable collection of works or coherent body of knowledge on which a journalist could be tested."