JFA seeks media council to regulate digital entities
Guwahati: Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA), while expressing serious
concern over various negative developments over digital media entities
functioning across the country, has called upon the Centre to empower
the existing Press Council as Media Council of India (MCI).
“Such a measure would bring news channels and digital media entities
under the purview of an upgraded and empowered watchdog body.
Presently, only newspapers and periodicals are under the purview of
the Press Council of India, which is but a quasi-judicial body in need
of more powers to curb ethical violations,” said a JFA statement.
It warned that unless there is a comprehensive set of guidelines
covering electronic media and digital media along with print media,
transgressions might continue which would only put media persons at
risk of official strong-arm action, commented JFA president Rupam
Barua and secretary Nava Thakuria.
In this context, the forum referred to a recent controversy in Assam
following the arrest of a mass-communication student of Gauhati
University, the allegation against him being fraudulently attempting
to cheat people through social media outlets. Dipjyoti Gogoi, who
hails from Sivsagar district, allegedly posted a sarcastic comment in
his facebook page recently using a screen shot of a news item on Assam
chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s public appeal for flood relief
donations — this news item being carried by the news portal
‘nenow dot in’ last year.
According to the police, Dipjyoti tried to mislead people with old
news and cheat them, besides seeking to malign the government’s image.
Apprehended under cyber crime law as well as penal code laws dealing
with cheating and fraud, Dipjyoti is still under judicial custody.
NortheastNow editor Anirban Roy has already clarified that the
particular news item (uploaded on 15 July, 2019) was based on a press
release issued by the State DIPR. He thereafter apprised the matter to
State chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna requesting to direct DIPR
for issuing a clarification.
In other worrisome developments, a number of individuals involved with
news portals/ digital channels have been arrested by the State police
on different occasions on suspicion of their roles in unethical
journalism and petty crimes. These arrested individuals were allegedly
pretending to be scribes.
“There are possibilities that anti-national elements may use the
digital media space which would emerge as a hidden menace to the
nation’s security,” argued the forum adding that around 200 digital
news outlets are functioning in Assam alone and the number would be in
tens of thousands for the whole country.
Media persons working for these entities need clear guidelines about
appropriate media practices as well as legal penalties that may be
attracted due to violations, stated the forum concluding that the
Union Government in New Delhi should recognize these new and
alternative entities, as well as to bring about a Media Council to
formulate guidelines for them at the earliest.