New Delhi : The Editors Guild of India Wednesday expressed concern over the increasing number of reports detailing the harmful practice of publishing ‘paid news’ by some newspapers and television channels, especially during recent elections.
Calling the phenomenon of paid news a blot on the country’s democratic fabric, the Guild in a statement called upon all editors in the country to desist from publishing any form of advertisement that masquerades as news.
“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,” the statement said.
“It is disturbing that this paid news practice is also being used by companies, organisations and individuals, apart from political parties.”
At its annual general meeting, the Guild has also deplored the practice of “private treaties” where news organisations accept 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.”
“Both the media organisations and editors who indulge in it, and the customers who offer payment for such paid news are guilty of undermining the free and fair press, which every citizen of India is entitled to,” the statement added.
In the coming months, the Guild will join hands with other media organisations to sensitize the media and civil society, including political parties and the Election Commission on the need to eliminate this unacceptable practice.
Guild president Rajdeep Sardesai announced the formation of an ethics committee headed by Business Standard Editor in Chief T.N. Ninan. The other members are B.G. Varghese, columnist, Sumit Chakravarty, editor of Mainstream and Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi.