Concerned over the alleged “political bias in news coverage and corporate onslaught on media in the State,” the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), in a first-of-its-kind initiative, is planning to come out with a news weekly.
A five-member committee has been constituted under K. Sreenivasa Reddy, member of the Press Council of India and secretary- general of the Indian Journalist Union, APUWJ's parent body, to work out the modalities.
Ongole MP M. Srinivasula Reddy, who was felicitated by APUWJ members on Wednesday for contributing towards the journalists' share of yearly insurance premium of Rs. 900 each to over 700 journalists in Prakasam district under the Group Medical Insurance scheme introduced by the YSR Government and implemented by the United India Insurance Company, also offered to take some shares in the proposed news weekly in which the APUWJ was mulling to hold 51 per cent of the share capital.
The State government contributes Rs. 1,860 towards its contribution to each scribe under the scheme implemented since 2004. Participating as chief guest, Municipal Administration Minister M. Mahidhar Reddy promised the journalists to take up at appropriate fora APUWJ's charter of demands, which included bringing electronic media under the purview of the Working Journalists' Act, constitution of a media commission and committee to oversee implementation of the recommendations of the wage boards in toto by all media managements.
The Ongole MP, accepting the felicitations, also promised to take up with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee provision of concessional rail travel for all journalists working in rural areas. Presently, the facility was available only to those working in district, State and national headquarters. APUWJ president D. Somasundar said 12,000 journalists benefitted from the health insurance scheme to an extent of Rs. 19 crores, with the claim ratio being 230 per cent.