Paid News Peddlers have Damaged Credibility of Profession

Paid News Peddlers have Damaged Credibility of Profession
It hardly needs to be said that social and digital media have grown beyond all proportions in the last nearly two and half decades, due mainly to the easy availability and connectivity of the internet in all nooks and corners of the country. The speed has gained further momentum in the last decade. Another reason for its popularity is that it is not limited by any geographical barriers or time zones. It can be reached from one corner of the world to the other in a moment.
Moreover, it is empowering in the sense that anybody who has to say or inform anything to anyone can do so without any let or hindrance. This is inexpensive also in comparison to the traditional media. However, this media has not been accorded the same importance as it is normally given to traditional media. A few years ago, while hearing the case of Sahara India Pvt Limited in the Supreme Court, the then Chief Justice of India, Justice SH Kapadia dismissed social media (not digital media) as Bazar- gossip, which should not be given much importance. Little did he know then the enormous power and potency of social media.
Having said it, this also has to be borne in mind that social media has created a huge deficit of credibility in society. Since there is no effective mode to check the veracity of what is being spread, the unscrupulous people keep on posting the fake news, more with the intent of spreading rumours than with disseminating any credible information. Credibility is the soul of media and in its absence, it becomes a dangerous tool in the hands and minds of its operators.
The golden principle of journalism has been to inform, educate and instruct/ guide the people when the need arises, but in the era of unregulated social media, all its objectives have been thrown to the wind. What has been the cause of the deep concern for the people is how the social media- Facebook. Twitter, Instagram and YouTubes- have been misused during the recent elections in five states- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa. The disgruntled media persons, who were thrown out of their media organisations started their own ventures by taking hefty amounts of money from the corrupt politicians.
It is said that some so-called journalists made hay while the sun of elections was shining. They peddled all cook and bull stories to please their political masters. They did not have any qualms or hesitation in selling their souls, little realising that they might make some easy bucks by working overtime for some leaders and parties, but they will never be believed or relied by anybody in the future.
These reckless U Tubers and warriors of Facebook were ceaselessly drilling fake stories in the minds of the electorates that the BJP was doomed and there was no chance of the party returning to power in any of the States. As far as Punjab was concerned, almost all of them had predicted for Hung assembly. But the Voters have shown them the way and did not believe, even a whit, in what was being presented to the day and night. Voters developed their own parallel source of information.
The positive side of it has been that the people have identified these paid media persons and no amount of false peddling of news is going to help them or those politicians who have been liberally opening their purse strings for them. This is high time the government must take some initiative to regulate social media for the credibility of the media persons and the profession.