Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Justice C K Prasad Wednesday said journalists should be provided with “social security”, stressing that they could not work properly without it.

Addressing a gathering at a function held at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) campus here to kick off the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), he flagged the issue of job uncertainties in the media sector.

“A phrase that is quite popular in the field of journalism, it is called pink slip. Any person, be it editor or reporter, who goes to office, would not know, if he or she is going to continue tomorrow at work,” Prasad said.

He argued that if journalists were expected to do their best, they must be provided social security.

The PCI chief said one “significant violation” that had gone “unnoticed” in the country was the “violation of the human rights of the members of the mass media itself”.

“They (the journalists) must be provided social security. Because, there are claims and counterclaims, and unless a journalist is not going to be protected (with such rights), he or she cannot work properly and honestly,” Prasad said.

He said media had become more powerful than ever now, but three tenets the people in this field should adhere to: “do not hide truth; do not give half-baked news; and do not be a mouthpiece of a group or an individual”.

“But, this power if not used judiciously, I am afraid may also result in massive violations of human rights. As has happened in the past in riots… Also, many terrorist groups have used media for their own vested agenda,” he said.

The PCI chief also urged the journalists to adequately arm themselves with intricate knowledge of human rights.

“Media has played critical role in educating people about the violation of human rights… In today’s scenario where the power of media has grown, they must work cautiously, sensitively and with sheer objectivity,” he said.

Addressing the gathering, NHRC chairperson Justice H L Dattu said the rights panel had on several occasions taken suo motu cognisance of human rights violations based on media reports.

“Media has played an important role in educating the masses about human rights and their violations, particularly in geographically distant places,” he said.

Urging the media to highlight the plight of the poor and the marginalised, Prasad said “rights of every man are diminished if rights of one man are threatened”.

IIMC Director General K G Suresh proposed to build associations between IIMC and NHRC to promote awareness about human rights.

A documentary charting the journey of 25 years of the NHRC was screened on the occasion.

The top three winners of the NHRC’s fourth Short Films on Human Rights Competition received Rs 1 lakh, Rs 75,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively.

The event concluded with a panel discussion on the ‘Role of Media in Creating Awareness on Human Rights’.

(With agency inputs)