Journalists’ right to write cannot be regulated

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No doubt that the entire world is suffering with fake and propaganda news; but journalists do not necessarily spread all these news. If you surf on social network, you will find that many political party supporters do this job to mislead people. A responsible media either stands by the establishment or stands in opposition to the government. Their only agenda is reporting. Most of the time, even government and establishment don’t like constructive criticism; rather they prefer bootlicking-journalists who praise everything about government, leader lord and their party. They are the blind and paid supporters of the establishment. There is another type of journalists who try to expose the wrongdoer and don’t bother much for the consequences. Such journalists and media houses are framed as anti-government and sometimes even anti-national; they are given colours to demoralise their sprit. Most of the journalists and media houses, who are serving the interest of government and their leaders, are regarded as great journalists and the news they spread is considered to be genuine just because they contribute to their propagandas.

In the race of TRP and to show the breaking news first, many news channels might make blunders but the worse thing is that one of the well-known news channels never apologised for its mistake.

For example, Rs 2000 note have chip inside it; many viewers actually believed the news. The editor of the famed news channel, that broadcasted that particular news, was explaining about NANO GPS chip in Rs2000 note. Already people were in a mess with demonetisation and depositing old currency tobanks and acquiring new currency. There were fear, uncalled deaths, sad time for middle class, working class and at such crucial juncture, the media channel was spreading lies and they never apologised for it. Nor the government or BJP supporters found anything wrong in it.  In another example of doctored tape in JNU case, few were true but some of them were doctored. But no one bothered to question the integrity of the editor’s newsauthenticity. The government banned one of the popular news channels after it came under the scanner for its alleged ‘fake’ sting operation implicating a schoolteacher in a sex racket in the Capital.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry invoked Sub-section 2(iv) of Section 20 of Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995, which says that the government can ban a channel in the interest of “public order, decency or morality.” The same person is now heading another famous news channel but his flow of fake news continues to gain TRP. However, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry never took objection. This was just an example to talk about the mainstream media. There are many such news channels that carry an agenda 24/7 leaving neutrality aside. They enjoy all the favours from the government and its supporters because they become a mouthpiece for many in the power corridor.

In the recent past, social media, bloggers and micro bloggers have taken the media job in hand; they are not slaves of any banner. They keep all courage to speak the truth and somewhere the double standards of the government are exposed by these entities. This is the parallel media having hunter in its hand to call a spade a spade, though not spared by the I&B Ministry. I wonder those who are not accredited journalists and if they are blogging against the government how one is going to cancel their right to write? Anyway, this is what the ministry might have realised and their“Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists amended to regulate Fake News” issued on April 2, 2018 stands withdrawn. The move came after the Prime Minister’s Office advised the I&B Ministry to withdraw the order and let the Press Council of India handle fake news issue. The PMO had also suggested that bodies like the Press Council of India and the News Broadcasters Association should take any decision on fake news.

The guidelines amended by the ministry had stated that the accreditation of an accused journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in case of second violation. In case of the third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently. It further added that any complaint of instances of fake news would be referred to the Press Council of India, if it pertains to print media, and to the News Broadcasters Association, if it relates to the electronic media, for determination of news stories being fake or not. Once the complaint is registered for the determination of fake news, the accreditation of the journalist, whoever created and/or propagated the fake news, will be suspended till the determination regarding the fake news is made. But what about those influential writers who do not hold any accreditation and yet influence readers more than the mainstream media?

Most Indians agree that fake news has left us confused. Fake news spreads quickly. It’s up to individuals to critically evaluate news stories before “liking,” “sharing,” “tweeting” or otherwise engaging with them. Fake news is frequently used to describe a political story, to damage the identity of an agency, entity, or a person. Many believe in fake news articles more sincerely rather than seeing the real side of it. How can we change the mindset of readers on social media? Moreover, many studies have revealed that the Indians cannot tell what news fake and what news is real! This is creating confusion and misunderstanding about important social and political issues. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry needs to understand that imposing anything to everything on a bunch of media houses and personalities is easy but controlling the voices of people across the globe is difficult. More the suffocate opinions, more they will feel the pain.

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Vaidehi

Vaidehi

Vaidehi, is an investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical hacker, Philanthropist, Author and an inspiration to many. She is Group Editor of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 8 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi daily tabloid – Mee Mumbaikar, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges, dedicated to IT industry, Indian news to the world and shipping industry, respectively. Besides the business perspective, she is an Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester.
Vaidehi