The Shillong Press Club (SPC) has expressed its extreme displeasure and resentment at the unsavoury remarks and baseless allegations made by Nongkrem legislator, and president of the Voice of People Party (VPP), Ardent M Basaiawmoit, against the journalist fraternity of the state.

In a statement issued today, the SPC said that it is unfortunate for an experienced legislator to level baseless accusations against the press fraternity under the garb of presenting fake news and more tragically insinuating that journalists in the state are succumbing to the paid news syndrome as elsewhere.

The SPC also said that it is shocking to hear Basaiawmoit publicly telling people that the media only covers VPP events to pinpoint and identify faults and lacunae in the party’s affairs.

The SPC reminded Basaiawmoit that a journalist’s sworn duty and mandate is to gather information which includes the good, the bad, and the ugly based on facts and not rumours or gossip.

The SPC also asked Basaiawmoit to clearly state whether the VPP expects only information and news that spell good tidings on the party’s behalf or if the VPP would like only the chosen few who probably fall under the bracket of his accusations to cover the party’s future events.

The SPC further reminded Basaiawmoit that the positive outcome of the party’s result in the recently concluded assembly elections ought to be attributed largely to substantial and continuous media coverage across all media platforms.

The SPC asked Basaiawmoit to name the journalist/s that have erred in the discharge of their professional duties by unfair means, saying that making a blanket accusation goes against the spirit of free and fair journalism which the SPC and all media houses in the state of Meghalaya have endeavoured to pursue.

The SPC said that making a blanket accusation is not only foolhardy but constitutes defamation against the journalist fraternity of Meghalaya.

The SPC demanded an adequate clarification and apology from Basaiawmoit, failing which the SPC will be compelled to take recourse to other appropriate measures.