Journalist writing is considered as the best behaved and objective way of expressing the true facts but now days it is being practiced by different newspapers and TV channels to Print/broadcast teasing statements and sizzling headlines in their editions and bulletins just to attract the target masses.
For instance, when coalition of Muslim League N and Pakistan People’s Party was passing through a hard time and squabbled then a private news channel’s headline was “Toot gai tarak kr ky” ( ) which is certainly not an appropriate wording for a news headline.
Do you think is it justified to guide the public in such satirical, pungent and scorching way? Discuss and justify your answer with logical arguments.
Code of conduct for News channels
1) Impartiality and objectivity in reporting:
Accuracy is at the heart of the news television business. Viewers of 24 hour news channels expect
speed, but it is the responsibility of TV news channels to keep accuracy, and balance, as precedence
over speed. If despite this there are errors, channels should be transparent about them. Errors must be
corrected promptly and clearly, whether in the use of pictures, a news report, a caption, a graphic or
a script. Channels should also strive not to broadcast anything which is obviously defamatory or
libelous. Truth will be a defense in all cases where a larger public interest is involved, and in even
these cases, equal opportunities will be provided for individuals involved to present their point of
view. This also applies in cases where television channels report on those holding public office, though
by virtue of doing so, no person can claim immunity from scrutiny from or criticism by news channels.
2) Ensuring neutrality:
TV News channels must provide for neutrality by offering equality for all affected parties, players and
actors in any dispute or conflict to present their point of view. Though neutrality does not always
come down to giving equal space to all sides (news channels shall strive to give main view points of the
main parties)news channels must strive to ensure that allegations are not portrayed as fact and
charges are not conveyed as an act of guilt.
3) Reporting on crime and safeguards to ensure crime and violence are not glorified:
Television news has greater reach, and more immediate impact than other forms of media, and this
makes it all the more necessary that channels exercise restraint to ensure that any report or visuals
broadcast do not induce, glorify, incite, or positively depict violence and its perpetrators, regardless
of ideology or context. Specific care must be taken not to broadcast visuals that can be prejudicial or
inflammatory. Equally, in the reporting of violence (whether collective or individual) the act of
violence must not be glamorized, because it may have a misleading or desensitizing impact on viewers.
News channels will ensure that such reconstructions will not cross boundaries of good taste and
sensibility. This includes taking adequate precaution while showing any visual instance of pain, fear or
suffering, and visuals or details of methods of suicide and self harm of any kind and will not cross
boundaries of good taste and decency.
4) Depiction of violence or intimidation against women and children:
As an elaboration of Point 3, news channels will ensure that no woman or juvenile, who is a victim of
sexual violence, aggression, trauma, or has been a witness to the same is shown on television without
due effort taken to conceal the identity. In reporting all cases of sexual assault, or instances where
the personal character or privacy of women are concerned, their names, pictures and other details will
not be broadcast/divulged. Similarly, the identity of victims of child abuse and juvenile delinquents
will not be revealed, and their pictures will be morphed to conceal their identity.
1) The Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens, the right to free speech, which right has
been liberally construed by our Supreme Court as encompassing not just the freedom of press, but
also the right of the citizen to be informed of matters of public moment and concern.
2) The fundamental premise of a democracy is the accountability of all its institutions to the political
sovereign, viz the people. It is axiomatic that for democracy to survive and flourish, freedom must
live in the hearts of people, and the citizenry must be ever vigilant against all attempts to subvert
the rule of law. Democracies have decayed into anarchy not merely on account of major events
such as coups, but also by insidious erosion caused by egregious corruption and abuse of power.
Exposing the threat within itself has become one of the most important roles of the news media,
particularly the electronic media whose reach and penetration has the promise to make democracy
a living reality for those who do not have access to the print media for want of literacy or
otherwise, and giving them a sense of involvement in the process of governance.
3) India is the world’s largest democracy, demographically marked by diversity in religion, language
and caste, and undoubtedly has problems that are significantly peculiar to it. Yet at the same
time, it shares certain common values with other vibrant democracies, and one of them is
balancing the freedom of the press with putting in place checks and balances that seek to instill a
sense of responsibility and to prevent abuse of this freedom, without the “chilling effect” that
would impair journalistic freedom.
4) It is the duty of media to keep the citizenry informed of the state of governance, which mostly
puts it at odds with the establishment. A media that is meant to expose the lapses in government
and in public life cannot obviously be regulated by government – it would lack credibility. It is a
fundamental paradigm of freedom of speech that media must be free from governmental control
in the matter of “content” – censorship and free speech are sworn enemies. It therefore falls upon
the journalist profession to evolve institutional checks and safeguards, specific to the electronic
media that can define the path that would conform to the highest standards of rectitude and
journalistic ethics and guide the media in the discharge of its solemn constitutional duty.
5) There are models of self governance evolved in other countries who have seen an evolution of the
electronic media including the news media much before it developed in India. The remarkable
feature of all these models is self governance, and a monitoring by a “jury of its peers”.
6) There are undoubtedly limitations in any model of self governance in which compliance is entirely
voluntary. However this does not suggest that such models are ineffective. Their efficacy flows
from the fact that the basic strength of a news channel lies in its credibility, from which flows its
ability to influence public opinion. A censure emanating from a jury of its peers would indisputably
affect the credibility of a channel. Besides, such a process is not without its legal ramifications.
One of the important defenses to civil and criminal actions (based on defamation) is “fair
comment” and bona fide attempts to unravel the truth. The difference between inaccuracy and
falsehood lies many a time in the motive. Channel acting in breach of established guidelines could
hardly defend its motives or suggest that it was acting fairly, if it is censured by a jury of its peers.
7) The interference by the government, however well intentioned, would imperil not just this method
of independent journalism, but the very process of investigation itself. It therefore has become
imperative that the news channels lay down guidelines, procedural safeguards and establish a body
that would act as a watchdog and a grievance redressal forum.
1) Professional electronic journalists should accept and understand that they operate as trustees of
public and should, therefore, make it their mission to seek the truth and to report it fairly with
integrity and independence. Professional journalists should stand fully accountable for their
2) The purpose of this Code is to document the broad paradigms accepted by the members of the
News Broadcasters Association (NBA) as practice and procedures that would help journalists of
electronic media to adhere to the highest possible standards of public service and integrity.
3) News channels recognize that they have a special responsibility in the matter of adhering to high
standards of journalism since they have the most potent influence on public opinion. The broad
principles on which the news channels should function are, therefore, as stated hereinafter.
4) Broadcasters shall, in particular, ensure that they do not select news for the purpose of either
promoting or hindering either side of any controversial public issue. News shall not be selected or
designed to promote any particular belief, opinion or desires of any interest group.
5) The fundamental purpose of dissemination of news in a democracy is to educate and inform the
people of the happenings in the country, so that the people of the country understand significant
events and form their own conclusions.
6) Broadcasters shall ensure a full and fair presentation of news as the same is the fundamental
responsibility of each news channel. Realizing the importance of presenting all points of view in a
democracy, the broadcasters should, therefore, take responsibility in ensuring that controversial
subjects are fairly presented, with time being allotted fairly to each point of view. Besides, the
selection of items of news shall also be governed by public interest and importance based on the
significance of these items of news in a democracy