Monday, June 21, 2021
HomeEditorialSuffocating opinions won't stop spread of fake news

Suffocating opinions won’t stop spread of fake news

No doubt that the entire world is suffering from fake and propaganda news but the media personnel or journalists do not necessarily spread all these news. If you surf on any social network, you will find most of the political party supporters do this job to mislead people. A responsible media either stands by the establishment or stands in opposition with the government. 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, which is seen as damaging to an agency, entity, or person. However, as seen in the last of the three citations given above, it is by no means restricted to politics and seems to have currency in terms of general news. Many believe in fake news articles more sincerely than the real side of it. How can we change the mindset of the readers on social media? Moreover, there are many studies that have revealed that Indians cannot distinguish between what news is fake and what 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 you suffocate opinions, more they will feel the pain.

Their only agenda is reporting. Most of the time, even government and establishment don’t like constructive criticism, rather they like bootlicking journalists who praise everything about the government, leader lord, and the party. They are blind and paid supporters of the establishment. There is another type of journalists who try to expose the wrongdoer and do not 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 spirit. Most of the journalists and media houses who are serving the interest of the government and their leaders are regarded as great journalists and the news they spread is considered to be genuine just because they contribute to the propaganda.

In the race of TRP and to show a breaking news first, many News Channels might designate blunders but the worse thing is that Zee TV never apologised for its mistake. For example, Rs 2,000 note have a chip inside it; many viewers actually believed the news. ZEE News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary was explaining about the NANO GPS chip in Rs 2,000 note. Already people were in a panic with the demonetisation and depositing old currency in banks and acquiring new currency. There were panic, uncalled deaths, sad time for the middle class and the working class and at such crucial juncture, Zee was spreading a lie and they never apologised for it. Nor the government or the BJP supporters found anything wrong in it. There was another example of doctored tape in JNU case, few were true but some of them were manipulated. But no one bothered to question the editor’s integrity pertaining to the authenticity of news. Sudhir Chaudhary ran a fake sting operation of a woman teacher that led to a ban on the channel earlier he worked with. The government banned Live India news channel after it came under the scanner for its alleged ‘fake’ sting operation implicating a school teacher 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 the government can ban a channel in the interest of “public order, decency or morality.” The same person is now heading Zee News but his flow of fake news continues to gain TRP, but 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 all neutrality aside. They enjoy all the favours from the government and its supporters because they have exactly become the mouthpiece for many in the power corridor.

In the recent past, social media, bloggers and microbloggers 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 a hunter in hand to call a spade a spade is spared by the Broadcasting 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 they issued a statement stating the 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 the 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 Ministry had amended the guidelines that said that the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation. In case of a 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 the print media, and to the News Broadcasters Association, if it relates to the electronic media, for determination of the news item being fake or not. Once the complaint is registered for 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?

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Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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