What Meeting Patricia Mukhim Taught Me About North East Reporting

Experience from an interaction with Patricia Mukhim

Jaipur, 11 August 2018 — On April 17, Patricia Mukhim, the Editor of The Shillong Times, came under attack when a kerosene bomb was hurled on her house. This was apparently due to her editorials in The Shillong Times, which ruffled a few feathers in Meghalaya. Journalists all over India had expressed solidarity with Mukhim.

Three and a half months after this incident, I found myself with a task: to interview her, when she was a panelist in a session related to “Reporting In North East India”. I raised my hand as I had an inner urge to interview her and to get a sneak peek into her mindset. What I had known and read about Patricia was translating into reality. A strong lady, a fierce journalist, one who wasn’t afraid from talking and writing tough was stating her points in such a manner that it compelled everyone in the gathering to take notice.

She gave insight into what is thought of reporters from North East India, “Nobody cares about journalists there (referring to north east) and we are considered enemies of the government”. She went on to say that “Large Number of People protested when Gauri Lankesh died, but sadly no one gets affected when a journalist dies in North East”.

Post the session, I was glad to have had interviewed her. She talked about that how there is a culture of impunity in the country, that anyone can do something and get away with it. She even talked about the incident in April that despite filing an FIR, nothing much had happened and the police wasn’t able to zero down on a culprit.

When questioning about lack of north-east coverage in mainstream media, she said that this question had been going on for about twenty years as editors sitting in Delhi take notice only of north east stories only when a calamity strikes. That’s what struck me the most. If any incident related to violence or natural disasters take place, then only the mainstream media gives coverage to north-east states.

A memorable interaction of a lifetime which taught me why many stories from north-east India aren’t picked, why attacks on journalists in north-east aren’t reported, or given as much coverage as comparedto attack on journalists outside north-east. By the time the interview was over, she expressed her happiness over female journalism students like me asking questions to her and wished me good luck for future by saying that “May you be a great journalist in future”.

Text:  Niharika Raina | Copy edit: Niharika Raina  | Photo: Niharika Raina | Photo desk: Anu Sonia |Editorial coordination: Jyoti Mamnani

This report was filed during Live Newsroom workshop conducted by Institute of Integrated Digital Journalism and Mass Communication (IIDJM) at Talk Journalism 2018.