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The Editors Guild of India on "paid news"

The Editors Guild of India in its annual general meeting on December 22, 2009 in New Delhi strongly condemned the practice of paid news, which, in its opinion, whittled the foundations of Indian journalism. The Guild called upon all editors in the country to desist from publishing any form of advertisements which masquerade as news. The guild took cognisance of the fact that based on data compiled by media monitoring agency AdEx (a unit of TAM Media Research Private Ltd), which was reported in the Mint on December 2, 2009, that in the assembly elections in Maharashtra in October 2009, the total advertising volume (measured in column centimetres) in Marathi newspapers declined by around one-fifth from the levels in 2004, suggesting the possibility of the increased incidence of advertisements disguised as news.

The Guild noted that it had always stood for publication of news which is in public interest, news which has been gathered due to the professional efforts of journalists and news which is not influenced by malice, bias, favouritism or monetary influence. The Guild also noted that it is imperative upon news organisations 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.

The Guild 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 the political parties. It held both the media organisations and editors who indulge in it, and the customers who offer payment for such “paid news”, guilty of undermining the free and fair press. It further elaborated that such irresponsible acts by a few media organisations and journalists is discrediting the entire media of the country, which has a glorious tradition of safeguarding democratic rights and exposing all kinds of injustices and inequities. The Guild expressed deep shock over the fact that companies, organisations and individuals, apart from political parties, also used the “paid news” practice. 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 Editors’ Guild of India, at the same meeting, announced the formation of an ethics committee headed by Shri T. N. Ninan of Business Standard, to curb the practice of publishing advertisements masquerading as news. The other members on the committee include veteran journalists Shri B.G. Verghese, Shri Sumit Chakravarty and Km Madhu Kishwar. The immediate task of the panel will be to frame a code of ethics in the context of the “paid news” phenomenon.

Date posted: August 8, 2010Last modified: May 12, 2018Total views: 0