Our Correspondent / NEW DELHI
Various Journalists’ bodies today expressed skepticism over the proposed Guideline issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the issue of fake and its subsequent withdrawal in the wake of the spontaneous reaction by the media and its criticism of government move.
In a statement after the meeting organized under the aegis of Press Club of India , the organizations said that the government had on Monday issued a press release whereby an accredited journalist’s accreditation would stand suspended or cancelled if he or she was found to have “created or propagated”fake news.
It gave powers to the Press Council of India in the case of print media and the News Broadcasters Association in the case of electronic media to look into the complaints and “determination of fake news.”
According to the release, pending such a inquiry, a journalist’s accreditation could be suspended temporarily and upon confirmation that such news had been purveyed, it would be suspended for six months or permanently cancelled in the eventuality of repeated violations.
The meeting which was addressed by several media representatives and supported by Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Association, Kerala Press Club of Delhi, Indian Journalists Union, Federation of Press Clubs of India and NUJ said that the journalist community was as concerned as the public regarding purveying of fake news which has the very potential of altering and subverting the character of Indian democracy.
It felt that while the misuse of any form of technology is a constant concern, distorted, fake news or false information meant to create disharmony, create social divides or defame individuals or groups are already covered by the statute books.
The representatives of various media organizations felt that there is ample scope for introspection and reform of journalistic practices, yet a government fiat restraining the fourth pillar of democracy is not a solution.
Expressing his view, TV journalist Ravish Kumar said the opinion of journalists was not taken before Monday’s circular was issued and added that such attacks would not stop.
Speaking on the occasion, senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai said though the Monday’s order had been withdrawn, there was very little to celebrate.
“What was the need of the circular in the first place? The government would consider such a circular is worrisome,” Sardesai said.
Press Club of India President Gautam Lahiri expressed his thanks to the response for the meeting convened by the Press Club of India and the unified stand on the issue.