New Delhi: It is good that the Prime Minister hastily intervened to withdraw the order of the Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani for punishing the journalists to control the ‘fake news’. In fact, the remedy was worse than the disease. The Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ) has severely criticized the move of the I&B Minister, which was not only arbitrary and illogical but was also an attempt to intimidate journalists. The order was so ill thought that it had not spelled either about the ‘fake news’ or who will decide what is the ‘fake news’.
IFWJ has lodged its protest to the I&B Ministry against the undemocratic constitution of the Central Press Accreditation Committee. The Minister has picked up few persons of her choice to constitute the CAPC. She has ignored the tradition of taking the representatives of the journalists’ organisations. It is bound to hurt the intuitions which are not going to augur well for the democracy.
In a letter to the Prime Minister IFWJ President B.V. Mallikarjunaiah has requested him to immediately look into the large-scale anomalies in the constitution of the PCI. IFWJ has been demanding for more than a decade for disbanding the Press Council of India and enacting the Media Council, which should consist of the journalists of representative organisations and other persons from the public life. It must have enough powers to regulate all media discrepancies.
In the newly constituted Press Council of India, there are hardly any members, who command any respect or representation of the journalists’ community. All requisite norms for the constitution have been spiked. In the beginning, it appeared that the Chairman of the Press Council of India was for the judicious stand but finally he also compromised, which resulted in the filling of the Council with bogus persons with doubtful credentials.