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शुक्रवार, दिसंबर 25, 2009

Editors Guild expresses concern over ‘paid news’

The Editors Guild of India has expressed shock and serious concern at the increasing number of reports of publication or broadcast of “paid news” by some newspapers and television channels, especially during the recent elections.

The guild, at its annual general meeting held yesterday, strongly condemned the practice that, it said, had shaken Indian journalism. It called upon all editors in the country to desist from publishing any form of advertisement that masqueraded as news.

A statement issued by the guild said: “It is imperative that news organisations have to clearly distinguish between news and advertisements with full and proper disclosure norms, so that no reader and viewer is tricked by any subterfuge of advertisements published and broadcast in the same format, language and style of news. It is disturbing that this paid news practice is also being used by companies, organisations and individuals, apart from political parties.”

The guild also deplored the practice of “private treaties” where news organisations accepted free equity in unlisted companies in lieu of promoting these companies through news columns and television news programmes. “The news organisations should disclose their commercial and equity interests in such companies to the readers and viewers in a transparent manner,” the statement added.

The guild also decried the unsavoury and unacceptable practice of some political parties and candidates offering payment for “news packages” to news media and its representatives to publish and telecast eulogising and misleading news reports on political parties. “The media organisations and the editors who indulge in it, and the customers who offer payment for such “paid news” are guilty of undermining the free and fair press, to which every citizen of India is entitled,” the statement said.

The guild has called upon publishers, editors and journalists to unitedly fight the menace of commercialisation and bartering of self-respect of the media. It added that the Editors Guild would be shortly unveiling an initiative to encourage transparency regarding “paid news” and “private treaties”.

President of the guild Rajdeep Sardesai announced the formation of an ethics committee headed by Editor-in-Chief of Business Standard TN Ninan. The members are columnist BG Varghese, Editor of Mainstream Sumit Chakravarty and Editor of Manushi Madhu Kishwar.

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