Every age and time throw up new problems and opportunities to explore their solutions. In the present times, the biggest challenge for journalism is an unprecedented crisis of credibility because of the fake news, which finds its way mostly through social media. The electronic and the print media are also not untouched from this scourge because they do not lag behind in injecting false news in different forms.
Such types of news have posed a very alarming situation before the society. It need not be mentioned here that under the Constitution of India there is no freedom of press(media) but the press enjoys the freedom which is guaranteed to every citizen of the country. Article 19(1)(a) provides that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression; But immediately thereafter in Article 19(2), the constitution has imposed reasonable restrictions on the freedom. Hard-Earned freedom is not unfettered and anarchic, which is what we find today in the media, particularly in social media.
The uncontrolled flooding of fake and false news due to some ulterior considerations have posed many grave dangers before the media like;
A.The information that mostly flows in social media is no better than the gossips and rumours, which hardly have any verifiable truth in it. But ‘rumours, as they say, have no feet but wings and by the time the reality is dawned upon the people incalculable damage is already done. Such news flares up the communal tensions and discords in different sections of society, by using abusive and filthy languages against any person, community or institution. Registered organisations of print and electronic media are still certainly more circumspect in purveying the false news in a subtle manner. There are, however, innumerable web portals, the part of the digital media and they have developed the tendency of spreading false, prejudiced and non-objective news. However, their presentations differ, as they clothe in a manner as if they are based on the hard facts and information. But on close scrutiny, it can be found that most of the web portals do it do to either sub-sub-serve their own interests or of their masters.
B.Any democratic country cannot afford to allow such fake and false news to float around. If this trend is allowed it will weaken the democracy. And if the democracy does not survive then there will be no freedom. The social media does not have any regulator, even for the namesake, to filter the news or views. Registered electronic and the print medium do claim to have some regulators working at different levels of checking in their organisations but generally, no rigours of editing are found to be visible.
C.Purveying of false and fake news is causing more damage to journalism and journalists than to anyone else because journalists are supposed to be used to remain objective and reliable to maintain the credibility of the profession. But now they appear to be more deviated from that golden path. Perhaps this is the reason that the profession of journalism is losing its sheen and respectability . People dismiss the information with disdain and in this process, even genuine information is made casualty. Credibility is the soul of journalism and if the soul is killed journalism is bound to die. Therefore, journalists must defend it with all might and main.
Even when there were no electronic, digital or social media, the journalism was not free from the pulls and pressures. In most of the organisations, journalists did not have much freedom. They were supposed to tone up or tone down their reports, opinions and editorials as per the dictates of their proprietors. Needless to tell that the IFWJ has always fought against such assaults by the proprietors but today it is manifested in most crude and ugly form. Therefore, the journalists will have to seriously consider over to guard against the menace such journalism.