By Manasvini Paul
RTI is a very important tool for journalists, especially in a country like India where the Press is not absolutely free.
If Press freedom is partial, then journalists can use RTI to get various important information from the State and Central Governments. The RTI Act of 2005 made it mandatory to give information to those parties who had successfully filed an RTI to government bodies, after paying a prescribed fee. It mandates timely response to any citizen seeking information from the government.
RTI is considered important for journalists because without this important tool the journalist would never be able to go in-depth. Even the Press Council has stated that the Right to Information Act is vital for the media and its endeavour to be a watch dog of the society. There are few journalists who are able to break the iron curtain of the official non-cooperation.
RTI has surely encouraged journalists and society to think large and ask more questions about the state of affairs and promote accountability. Today the journalists are no longer required to go by the words of people or rumours. Through RTI transparency in public can be achieved. Various states across India have a good response to RTI. This reflects the slow but steady momentum that RTI is gaining.
Information is considered to the oxygen of democracy where people live freely and information serves greater good
There is direct relationship which exists between RTI, informed citizen and fair governance. Right to information gives citizen an opportunity of being informed.
I believe that RTI gives the most genuine form of information related to any topic. RTI is such that one can question the authenticity of information. I felt that with the advent of RTI, journalists are no longer required to simply rely on their personal contacts, news can now be more impartial and objective. RTI is now considered to be a very powerful source of information.
It is not only easy to use but it is also reliable and editors would hardly question authenticity of data obtained through RTI. In investigative journalism it is again important as it can give in new leads to curious investigative reporters. It must also be mentioned that in earlier days journalists were denied even a word but today through RTI they can have an entire file at their disposal. Instead of believing rumors the media can now study the acquired government documents in order to make their story more credible.
The fact is clear that RTI as a tool stands important to all branches and forms of journalism. In my experience RTI has also helped foster a relationship between me and the person who had typed down the information which I required. This skill has proven to be very useful for me and in my stories I have been using RTI module to get various information which otherwise I would not be granted.
I personally think that without RTI, journalists would not have been able to get hard hitting stories which make people think and question.
This Article is written by Manasvini Paul as part of curriculum at IIJNM