Mumbai: The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday released a statement against the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s previous bid to suspend or cancel a journalist’s Press Information Bureau Accreditation if he or she is found to have created or propagated fake news.
The guild strongly criticised the I&B ministry’s arbitrary mode of punishing a journalist or a media organisation publishing fake news saying, the order leaves scope for false complaints to harass journalists and media houses.
Editors Guild of India strongly condemns arbitrary manner contemplated by I &B Ministry ostensibly to penalise any journalist or media organisation publishing fake news. It would have opened door for frivolous complaints to harass journalists and orgs to fall in line: Statement— ANI (@ANI) April 3, 2018
The Editors Guild also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for intervening into the matter.
Earlier on Tuesday, Modi directed that the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed in Press Council of India.
However, the guild also expressed its dissatisfaction over the fact that the Centre’s faith rests only on the Press Council of India to deliver justice in such cases.
The Editors Guild acknowledges the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office to withdraw the I & B Ministry’s notification but remains deeply disturbed that faith continues to be reposed on the Press Council of India to deliver justice on such issues: Statement— ANI (@ANI) April 3, 2018
Find full text of a statement issued by the Editors Guild here:
The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the arbitrary manner contemplated by the Union Information and Broadcasting (I &B) Ministry ostensibly to penalise any journalist or media organisation publishing fake news. By notifying that the I & B Ministry will initiate such proceedings, the Government was arrogating for itself the role of policing the media. It would have opened the door for frivolous complaints to harass journalists and organisations to fall in line.
The Guild acknowledges the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office to withdraw the I & B Ministry’s notification but remains deeply disturbed that faith continues to be reposed on the Press Council of India to deliver justice on such issues. The recent reconstitution of the Press Council of India has been done in a manner that gives rise to doubts over the independence of the institution and its ability to play neutral umpire. The Guild’s nominees to the Council were disallowed on technical grounds. Also, the recent reconstitution of the Central Press Accreditation Committee has raised questions over the non-transparent processes being followed by the I & B Ministry as the Guild’s application was ignored.
The Guild also points out that ‘fake news’ is a process that cannot be left to governments to initiate action when, on many occasions, the governments and the parties in power – both at the Centre and states – are charged with propagating fake news themselves. Moreover, news organisations are not the only source of generation of fake news with the country awash with digital platforms of all hues and opinions that operate without constraints and have the potential to cause far more damage.
The Guild has always stood for observing the highest journalistic standards and is willing to work with the Central Government, state governments and media bodies to define what can be constituted as ‘fake news’ and take action against those found guilty of propagating such news without compromising on the independence and freedom of the media....