Concerned about the falling standards of journalism and the entry of anti-social elements in the journalism world, the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry is preparing new rules or modification in the current rules for the release of press cards by the newspapers, magazines, and TV channels. The administration is making amendments regarding the issue of press card after the outpouring of fake journalists and fake news in recent years.
Om Prakash Tiwari, a senior journalist from Dainik Jagran and Treasurer of Mumbai Press Club commented, “In Mumbai Press Club, we verify all the documents pertaining whether the applicant is a journalist or not. I support this government initiative because it is a right step and everyone should support this decision as the honest journalists don’t spread fake news. Mostly this problem happens in electronic or other media compared to the print media. If the government implements this decision, it will help to cease the fake news.”
As per the reports, the press card and press stickers issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will only be considered valid. Acceptance of the District Magistrate is necessary for the reporters of daily newspapers, news agencies and TV channels. The newspapers and periodicals publication can be stopped, who have not submitted their annual reports for the last three years by the Central Government. The offenders will be registered under a criminal case in case of selling the press card. After getting the facts, the criminal case will be recorded on the cardholder, card issuer and also the owner of a pressed vehicle.
Independent journalist Kanchan Srivastava stated, “It is a right decision to some extent. Because there are many people who issue fake press cards and misuse them but the question arises that who issues such fake press cards. It is the responsibility of the government to verify documents and do the scrutiny while issuing press cards. I think these steps should be taken to create fear in journalists and freelance journalists.”
It is believed that the increasing number of news reports and journalists in the country has also increased the awareness of the readers. At the same time, due to the increase in easier access to information with online platforms available, some unethical faces have also knocked in the journalism, due to which fingers are being raised over the authenticity of news and journalists as well.
According to the police officials, they face a huge trouble by the press card holders as it is difficult for them to identify the difference between fake and verified cards and stickers on the vehicles, which boasts the confidence of the offenders to reap the benefits of press card or stickers. Although there are no written or legal privileges associated with a press cards or sticker, people often tend to exploit it as per their perquisite.
Dhaval Mehta, a correspondent at Free Press Journal said, “According to me, it is a positive step towards terminating the spread of fake news. It can also help to prevent the misuse of fake press cardholders, if the due processes are followed. Though journalists might face a little problem but in order to stop the malaise and malpractice of fake news, steps should be taken by the government.”
The proliferation of technology, cheap smartphones, and reasonable data rates has enabled the democratisation of the online content. The flip side is that the speed of content distribution has made the verification approach of traditional journalistic unfeasible. Thus, the unfettered flow of speech has become vulnerable to the peddling of unverified information. Recent incidents in India are indicative of potential harm, ranging from political misinformation to a spate of lynching.
Dabang Dunia Editor Unmesh Gujarathi expressed, “Practically, implementation of any such regulations is not going to happen from the side of the government. It is just a false promise by the government. Although, if the government decides to implement this decision, fake news and lynching incidents can be controlled. But there is a need for vision and proper implementation.”
The government’s attempt at regulating fake news by suspending journalists’ accreditation was a spectacular failure. However, it is believed by the experts that due to the revised rules, the government machinery will be kept in a view of procession press cards and stickers for vehicles. Evidently, the implementation of this potential scheme of the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry can change the map of journalism.