Editor’s Guild of India slams Government for its move to “police the media”

Editor’s Guild of India slams Government for its move to “police the media”
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New Delhi: The I&B’s new guidelines to check ‘fake news’ from circulating and penalizing the journalists for reporting it has received severe backlash from the Editors Guild of India.

The PMO had to issue cancellation directives of the new guidelines pertaining to fake news and cancelation of journalists accreditation for reporting any such news after severe criticism, questions were raised on the Government’s move.

The Editor’s Guild of India though supports action against those who report fake news says this Government’s move was an attempt to “police the media”.

Calling it an ‘arbitrary’ move the Guild stood for refined and “highest journalistic standards”, it however also said the move would have been used as a weapon to harass genuine journalists.

The Guild’s nominees had rejected I&B Ministry’s proposal to make PTI, the regulatory body, to administer the fake news, on technical grounds.

The Guild issued a statement which said, “The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the arbitrary manner contemplated by the I&B ministry ostensibly to penalise any journalist or media organization 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 organizations to fall in line.”

The Guild said the recent reconstitution of the regulatory body PCI was not as per the Guild’s application raising doubts about its transparency and ability to stay neutral regarding any news.

It said the I&B Ministry followed a nontransparent process in the recent reconstitution of PCI done by the central press accreditation committee.

The Guild editors observed that the parties in power and ruling government will influence the news since the parties are quite often charged with propagating the fake news.

“The Guild also points out that fake news is a process that cannot be left to governments to initiate action when, on many occasions, governments and parties in power – both at the Centre and states – are charged with propagating fake news themselves,” it said.

It further stated digital platforms as such has the potential to cause far more damage than these news organizations which are not the only source to generate fake news. These digital platforms work without any constraints, permission it said.