By Parmanand Pandey
Planting fake and false news is not new to journalism. This practice has been going on for quite a long time but the scale and frequency with which it is being resorted to these days by a cross-section of motivated people and organisations are too much to recount. The sad part of it is that those who claim to be the champions of the cause of truth and objectivity are also indulging in this nefarious practice. Some time ago we have seen that an operator of a Utube channel, who boasted himself to be the fact checker floated a wild rumour about himself having been shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize. Many news channels became a willing and collusive parties to give credence and wide publicity to the wild rumour.
A few years back a TV Channel spread the false news about schoolteachers running the flesh trade and using the girl students at the school to make money. The said rumour spoiled not only the career of the innocent teacher but brought disrepute to the school and the students. The biggest shock is that many responsible journalists, whose words are taken as gospel truth by the general public, have also been found to be indulging in spreading unfounded and baseless stories. The falsehood spread at the time of demonetisation android by the so-called responsible journalists and TV Channels were nothing more than scandals.
Why legal actions were not taken against them by the authorities was really intriguing. In fact, independent and autonomous organisations should have come forward to name and shame of those shameless journalists and media houses. This underlines the urgent need for an effective regulatory body to curb and control the fakery in journalism, which is posting the biggest threat to the credibility of the profession in the age of the internet. While social and web media has expanded its reach and penetration even in the remote corners, the mischief mongers are misusing this technological boon to spreading innuendoes, canards and lies. Agenda-driven journalism based on cock and bull stories has been causing incalculable damage to the profession which must be stopped at any cost.
Recently a Web portal the ‘Wire’ has proved that some operators have scant regard for the golden principles of journalism, and they plough their furrows at the instance of the forces that are inimical to the interests of the country. This time the Wire and its operators have been caught red-handed because they accused the powerful company, Meta. It expose them so badly that they did not get even the fig leaf to hide. It has also come to light that some foreign countries are pumping in huge funds to create an atmosphere of distrust and disbelief in the country. ‘Although no registration of any media organisation can be done in India, whose editor or proprietor is a foreign citizen, it is seen that many foreigners are flagrantly violating these statutory provisions with gay abandon. Unfortunately, the government officials turn Nelson’s eye towards these violators and many times extend clandestine and surreptitious support to offenders and breakers of laws.
In fact, strict and exemplary action must be taken against masked journalists, who indulge in blackmailing in the name of enjoying the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Absence of strict execution of laws, these hoodlums who dance to the tunes of their foreign masters, will not hesitate to bring a bad name to the country. These so-called journalists wield so much clout that they dictate with authority to the impotent and bogus bodies like the Editors Guild of India and the Press Council of India. The echo system of these disguised journalists is entrenched in that they feel that they make or mar the image of anyone. It is the time when the general public should rise to wage a relentless struggle against the new avatars of Goebbels to protect the invaluable fundamental rights and safeguard the credibility of the profession of journalism.