Journalist can only enter ‘media room’ in Secretariat now

Bengaluru: Coming under intense media scrutiny and facing a series of adverse comments on the performance of his two-month old coalition government, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has set out on the not so easy task of ‘bridling’ the media-on Tuesday the government announced that reporters on the secretariat beat would have to confine themselves to one common room and would not have access to officials and ministers.

This leaves the media with little option but to rely on the press notes handed out by various departments/ministers and on the sound bytes provided by ministers at the press conferences they address in the media room-whenever they want to. The clampdown on the media comes in the garb of ‘cleansing Vidhana Soudha’ of middlemen, many of whom, according to the CM, can be found involved in powerful deals in the corridors of the hub of power. A security meeting was convened by the state DG&IGP, where the new system was envisaged to regulate both the media and members of the public. 

The security system is in place and police have manned strategic positions inside the Soudha. In fact, some policemen were found behaving rudely with the media – something unheard of previously. Mr Kumaraswamy tried to justify the move saying it was an attempt to free Soudha from the clutches of middlemen whose activities have even been recorded on CCTV cameras.

On the moves to restrict the media, the CM denied any such bid and added, “You (media) come to Vidhana Soudha at different timings. This creates a problem for everyone. A separate arrangement will be made to ensure easy gathering of news for everyone. There will be a separate room and all news gathering can be done at one place,” he said. Ever since coming to power, Mr Kumaraswamy has been reportedly nursing a grudge against the media as he feels his government is being portrayed in bad light. Now with police being assigned the task of monitoring and restricting the movement of reporters, this is being viewed as a move to curb media access to ministers and bureaucrats.

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