Fake News Crackdown: Journalists to lose accreditation over spreading fake news

Fake News Crackdown: Journalists to lose accreditation over spreading fake news
Journalists found generating or propagating fake news may permanently lose accreditation (Representational Image, Courtesy: The Epoch Times)

Journalists found generating or propagating fake news may permanently lose accreditation as per the information and broadcasting ministry’s amended guidelines, the government said on Monday.

According to senior officials, the ministry is trying to tackle the issue of fake news on priority in the wake of increasing number of such stories being reported in both print and electronic media.

As per the amended guidelines for the accreditation of journalists, if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.

In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the information and broadcasting ministry said in a release.

Guidelines for addressing fake news published by non-accredited journalists will be issued in the coming days. Accreditation is imperative for journalists to get access to government events and ministries.

Going forward, any complaint of instances of fake news would be referred to the Press Council of India (PCI), if it pertains to print media, and to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), if it relates to the electronic media.

The agencies, both of which are not controlled by the government, are expected to determine if the news item is fake or not within 15 days.

Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the accreditation of the journalist, whoever created and/or propagated the fake news, will be suspended till the determination regarding the fake news is made.

The Accreditation Committee of the Press Information Bureau (PIB), which consists of representatives of both the PCI and the NBA, would be reached out for validating any accreditation request of any news media agency.

While examining requests seeking accreditation, the regulatory agencies would check whether the Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ and Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards’, prescribed by the PCI and NBA respectively, are adhered to by the journalists.

The development, however, has met with sharp criticism from some media persons and opposition parties.

While Congress leader Ahmed Patel questioned the government’s attempt to check fake news, asking whether it was aimed at preventing journalists from reporting news uncomfortable to the establishment, many senior journalists termed the move as an attack on the freedom of the press.

Incidentally, there is no regulatory framework for online news content, where a majority of fake and propaganda-based news stories are published.

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