New media policy for Jammu and Kashmir is Orwellian, says Indian Express
Media

New media policy for Jammu and Kashmir is Orwellian, says Indian Express

The policy empowers state officials to decide if a news item is fake, plagiarised, unethical, or ‘anti-national’.

By NL Team

Published on :

Criticising the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s new media policy, the Indian Express today described it in an editorial as “Orwellian” and “Goebbelsian”.

“The J&K Directorate of Information of Public Relations may not have George Orwell’s vocabulary but the framers of this policy have managed to provide a remarkably clear picture of the media they want,” the newspaper wrote, “journalists and news organisations answerable not to their readers, nor even to their editors, but to government bureaucrats and security officials, who will have the powers to decide which news item is fake or ‘anti-national’; and with these determinations, to further decide the economic viability of a newspaper through the carrots and sticks of government advertisements.”

The new policy, which will be in place for the next five years, was ostensibly introduced to "carry the message of welfare, development and progress to the people in an effective manner". It states that the administration will identify news items that can be categorised "fake", "plagiarism", "unethical", and "anti-national activities". And "any individual or group" responsible for publishing or airing such news will be "proceeded against under the law".

It adds that state advertisements will be denied to media outlets that "incite or tend to incite communal passions, preach violence, violate broad norms of public decency, or carry out any acts or propagate any information prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India".

Commenting on these rules, the Express says, “Officials will sit in judgement on journalistic ethics and issues of plagiarism. All this for building ‘a genuinely positive image of the government based on performance’, and to ‘build public trust’ and ‘increase public understanding about the government’s roles and responsibilities’. In case anyone missed it, a Goebbelsian reminder is provided under the separate sub-head of ‘Repetition’: ‘Wherever possible a repetitive schedule shall be devised for placement of important information to ensure it receives public consideration.’”

It concludes, “A free media can help the government take the right actions more effectively than sunshine stories. The government should enable an atmosphere for free and fearless journalism, instead of creating policies to obstruct and prevent it.”

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