Television

Can’t gag media to fight pandemic: Editors Guild of India

The SC had told media to publish official versions of COVID-19 developments

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MUMBAI: The Editors Guild of India in a letter has expressed its reservations against the government for holding the media responsible in the supreme court for creating panic in the country amid coronavirus pandemic.

“No democracy anywhere in the world is fighting the pandemic by gagging its media,” says an official statement of The Editors Guild of India (EGI). “Blaming the media at this point can only undermine the current work being done by it under trying circumstances.”

The print media association has also said that such charges against media will obstruct the process of dissemination of news during an unprecedented crisis in the country.

The apex court on Tuesday asked all media houses to refer and publish the official version of coronavirus developments rather than creating a panic-like situation in the country. The government also came up with an official portal within 24 hours to disseminate corona-related news and developments.

While dictating an order to the media, a bench led by chief justice of India SA Bobde had said: “We do not intend to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic, but direct the media refer to and publish the official version about the developments.”

According to the EGI, the government’s statement in the supreme court that media causing panic among migrant workers leading to their mass movement is ‘gratuitous and unnecessary’. It says, “Blaming the media for mass migration of workers will be counterproductive. And, such actions would be tantamount to disabling the messenger.”

The statement signed by general secretary AK Bhattacharya said, “The guild’s attention has also been drawn to the lodging of a first information report against the editor-in-chief of the website The Wire. Police action in the form of an FIR is an overreaction and act of intimidation.”

The order came on a submission by the government blaming fake news for the migrant exodus and seeking a court direction to deal with the menace.

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