Media as an unbiased purveyor of information

As per CEO not a single reported case of ‘paid news’ in Nagaland 

Atono Tsükrü Kense
Kohima | October 22

Along with the power and influence that media holds, also comes great responsibility— a responsibility to uphold fairness. 

Maintaining ethical standards of journalism is the expected norm, and the question of ‘paid news’ often rears its head, smearing the concept of a ‘free and fair’ news media. 

With Bihar in the midst of electioneering for the state Assembly and several bye-elections to be held across the country, including Nagaland on November 3, the role of the media as an unbiased purveyor of information gains all the more importance. 

The Election Commission of India considers the media as its ‘eyes and ears.’ However, the ECI has also pointed out that money used through the media in elections has assumed an alarming proportion as a serious electoral malpractice.

As for Nagaland, according to the state Election Office, Nagaland has the distinction of not having a single reported case of ‘paid news.’ 

When inquired by The Morung Express, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Abhijit Sinha informed that there is no available record of ‘paid news’ offence pertaining to the state of Nagaland since the first general election was conducted.

N. Moa Aier, Additional CEO and Chairman MCMC Nagaland added, “So far as of now, the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) of Nagaland has not detected any paid news.”

Making the confirmation, Aier said the media as the fourth pillar of democracy should further the cause of a “fair and just journalism.”

What is paid news?
The Press Council of India defines paid news as “any news or analysis appearing in any media (print or electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration.”

In the words of Aier, paid news is when any media house or journalist portrays/publish/broadcast the story of only some selected candidates. However, he added that the boundary between good and paid journalism is “razor thin.”

During a workshop with the journalists Kohima recently, Deputy CEO, Awa Lorin was crystal clear when he said that paid news misleads the public and hampers their ability to form correct opinions.

He further said that paid news seeks to circumvent election expenditure laws/ceiling, adversely disturbing the level playing field.

Senior journalist, H. Chishi viewed that the fourth estate acts as a bridge between people and the pillars of democracy and a watchdog of the state– legislature, executive and judiciary.

For this reason, he maintained that “it will be unfortunate for the media to succumb to undemocratic means.”

While the credibility of the fourth estate comes into question “sometimes due to some few media houses going haywire,” Chishi said, “Fortunately, so far there has been no report of media houses in our state indulging in undemocratic practices.” 

He described elections as a period when the public is bombarded with both truth and fake news. “In this scenario, the media has a crucial role to play to let voters understand the facts.” 

Chishi added that it becomes all the more vital for journalists to have the ear to the ground, come up with truthful and also analytical reports, which would help the public vote for the right candidate and the party.