Editors' Guild to check paid news practice, pvt treaties

 
In its annual general meeting held on Wednesday, the Guild strongly condemned the practice, saying it “whittles the foundations of Indian journalism” and urged all editors in the country to desist from publishing any form of advertisement which masquerades as news.

“The ugly phenomenon of ‘paid news’ will be a blot on the country’s democratic fabric,” the guild said in a statement, adding it would shortly unveil an initiative to encourage transparency in “paid news” and “private treaties.” It added: “We appeal to all stakeholders to join us in pushing for a clean and transparent media.” Guild president Rajdeep Sardesai also announced the formation of an ethics committee headed by T N Ninan,  Editor-in-Chief, Business Standard, and comprising eminent journalist B G Varghese; Sumit Chakravarty, editor, “Mainstream” and Madhu Kishwar, editor, “Manushi,” to look into the issue.

“It is imperative that news organisations have to clearly distinguish between news and advertisements with full and proper disclosure norms, so that no reader or viewer is tricked by any subterfuge of advertisements published and broadcast in the same format, language and style of news,” the guild said.

“It is disturbing that this ‘paid news’ practice is also being used by companies, organisations and individuals, apart from political parties,” it added.

The Guild also deplored the practice of “private treaties” in which news organisations accepted free equity in unlisted companies in lieu of promoting such companies through news columns and TV news programmes.

“News organisations should disclose their commercial and equity interests in such companies to the readers and viewers in a transparent manner,” the body said.

The Guild also condemned as “unsavoury and unacceptable” the practice of some political parties and candidates offering payment for “news packages” to the news media and their representatives to publish and telecast eulogising and misleading reports on political parties. According to the Guild, such irresponsible acts by a few media organisations and journalists is discrediting the entire media of the country.

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