As General Elections are reaching to its final stage, the media is active or I can say hyperactive giving their own perceptions. Members of political parties active on social media have gone wild in supporting their political lords by accusing media of showing biased news and being against them. Some journalists are randomly abused and ill addressed by worshipers of leaders. There are three main groups on social network, Congress- BJP/Modi and Aam Aadmi party. Though, Congress supporters are comparatively less aggressive and much decent, whereas Modi and Kejriwal supporters are going to any extend to demoralise a journalist by making all sorts of attacks on them. The phenomenon of “paid news” goes beyond the corruption of individual journalists and media companies. It has become pervasive, structured and highly organised and in the process, is undermining democracy in India. Large sections of society, including political personalities, those working in the media and others, have already expressed their unhappiness and concern about the pernicious influence of such malpractices.
Most of them are busy teaching journalists about their duties and how journalists should be. Most of the journalists have their own say, not necessarily do they support someone or somebody. They have their own findings and opinions. Unbiased journalism does not mean that the journalists should abstain from expressing their personal views. However, this principle should not limit the journalist in choosing their style of writing.
Why should a journalist be a spokesperson of an egoistic private or public group? They should contribute to mass media’s objective coverage of the multiplicity of opinions. It is not allowed to hide publicly important information or distort the facts. Biasness in commentary is a violation of the principles of journalistic ethics. However, you should respect the unbiased journalists even if they are not writing in favour of your party or leaders. It’s you, who is political by nature, why are you forcing a journalist to follow or write what you like? Let them have their freedom of expression which they need. Agreement and disagreement is a part of a debate, talk decently and put your point forward swiftly, express your disagreements, but do not take liberty to choke the throat of that journalist who is doing their duty. Following someone or not following someone is totally in your hand. On social network, freedom is in your hand. We are educated people and have access to most modern technologies to get connected, but most of the time we land in spreading hate of rejections. The basic arguments or debate takes backseat.
Preparation and writing of analytical materials and commenting on certain events should be done by journalists whose competence and experience correspond to the task in hand. People featured in the news should be characterised by race, religion, nationality and status only in cases when it is important for the correct understanding of the material. Unconfirmed information, rumours and conjecture should be marked as such. Symbolic illustrations should be clearly recognisable or have corresponding tags. When stating facts, commenting on them or entering a discussion on a certain issue, journalists should stick to the ethics and principles of a dialogue and express respect for the discussion. And even readers should have patience to accept or reject, with utmost dignity.
The journalist should differentiate between publicly important information and information that evokes public interest. Information on the private life of a person may be published only if the behaviour of this person in the private sphere affects the public interest. In such cases, it is necessary to make sure that journalists are not going against the interests of the people. Social media is known for personal attacks, by morphed pictures, fake blogs, and much more. Rumour mongers will not solve any purpose for your leader or party.
Journalists have no permission to circulate photographs of citizen’s private environment without their consent. People on Social network use all sort of pictures for personal attack on leaders and celebrities. There is vast difference between one being on social media and one being in mainstream media. Mass media should not stimulate unhealthy interest. Investigation and trial should be covered objectively. At all stages of an investigation and trial, the journalist should seek comprehensive coverage of all points of view of all sides. Nowadays, social media has become hub of ‘so called’ expose or sting, the sanity of journalism is at stake. One should be able to prove the claims; just tarnishing someone’s image is not ethically correct. People criticised in the mass media should have the right to immediate response. In their daily work, it’s advised to keep a balance between fair competition and professional solidarity. We should we defend our professional dignity and prestige and express solidarity with people we interact on social network.
There is always tug of war between mainstream media and social media, but that does not means one should cross all the boundaries of indecency to accuse or attack another. I hope with time, people will understand this.