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Cobrapost sting: Editors Guild of India urges media houses to explain position to readers

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Editorial freedoms must be fully respected; paid news, even a suggestion of it, is ruinous for the media’s image, the Guild says in a statement.

New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India has expressed concern over the claims made by news portal Cobrapost, which carried out a series of sting operations on several prominent media houses, claiming that they were willing to push the Hindutva agenda through a planned campaign in return for heavy payments.

While the Guild has stated that it cannot ascertain the veracity of these tapes, it has urged the executives of the media organisations, purportedly caught engaged in inappropriate conversations, to explain their position to their readers and the public at large.

“They must squarely address the charge that some media organisations seem inclined to sell editorial content for revenue,” the Guild said in a statement.

The Guild further stated that the media is under attack from different quarters in an environment and that requires journalists to be “extraordinarily vigilant and conscious” of the need to adhere to the “highest standards of free and fair journalism”.

“The managements and proprietors should recognise the complex challenges they and their journalists face and respond to them in a way that no one can cast aspersions on their credibility and fairness,” it said.

“Editorial freedoms must be fully respected. Paid news, even a suggestion of it, is ruinous for the media’s image,” the statement read.

Drawing attention to the Code of Practice for Journalists adopted by it in 2002 and subsequently revised in 2007, the Guild stated that there can be no compromise on maintaining the wall between editorial and advertising.

“All sponsored and advertorial content must be clearly identified and demarcated,” it stated.

Clause 19 of the Code of Practice says: “Information should not be obtained through the use of clandestine listening and photographing devices or by intercepting private telephone conversation. Or through misrepresentation or subterfuge (popularly described as sting operations) except when justified only in public interest, and when information cannot be obtained by any other means.”

“The Guild stands by these guidelines outlined in the Code of Practice for Journalists. If at all stings are to be carried out, these must be justified as per these norms, following fundamental journalistic principles of full disclosure and fairness,” the Guild stated.

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