In a statement issued today, the Editors Guild of India urged editors and journalists to exercise utmost restraint in reporting “communal disturbances that have erupted in various parts of the country”.
The remarks come amid communal violence in several states following Ram Navami processions.
It noted that “in the understandable desire to be first with the news, and to catch the eye of news consumers, many editors and reporters appear to be rushing to conclusions, and assigning responsibility to one or the other community, without a full appreciation of the facts, contect, and calculations and work”. It said this could have lasting implications.
Acknowledging the hazards faced by on-ground reporters in riot-like situations, the journalist body expressed dismay that “due diligence has been wanting in the evaluation and presentation of reports of the clashes between communities,” which was especially evident in electronic, digital, and social media.
The statement said that the long arc of communal violence in India shows that most incidents are rarely what they seem to be on the surface, that the patronage of politicians, officials, and non-state actors is well documented, and that it was therefore incumbent for editors to bring their experience and perspective to the newsroom in these “surcharged times”.
The statement by EGI concluded by saying that it was necessary for every journalist to make the extra effort to maintain fairness, neutrality, and balance, and to not allow themselves to become pawns in the “larger game of polarisation”.
“Journalism has many noble objectives as well as professional obligations. Helping preserve social peace and communal harmony – by not only fueling rumours, by not being partisan, and by not setting citizen against citizen – is one such worthy professional obligation.”
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