17th of November every year is celebrated as the National Journalism Day. A day coined to acknowledge terms like freedom of speech, thoughts, and morality and the role that media plays in creating a healthy, democratic society as well as to honour the journalist who by all means act as moral police and brings in light the issues which matter.
The first newspaper in India was published in the pre independence era, in the year 1780 by James Augustus Hickey who introduced the Bengal Gazette and also the Calcutta General Advertiser. Though the British administration subjugated the paper in 1782, within two years, for its straight forwards and direct condemnation of British Raj. A lot of papers came into existence in the years to follow but all were taken down or censored by the British Administration.
In this period, the act governing the publications was the Press Act, 1835, which was popularly known as the Metcalfe Act, which brought in a more liberal press policy. One of the most harsh regulations on the freedom of the press in India was when the Vernacular Press Act of 1878 came into existence. It was introduced by then Viceroy, Lord Lytton, with the aim of providing the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press.
Between the year 1908 and 1912 four new measures were sanctioned namely, the Newspapers (Incitement to Offences) Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908, the Press Act of 1910 and the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act of 1911.
The Press Act of 1910 had a deep impact on the Indian papers. It provided power to the local government to demand a sum for any ‘offensive content’ against the government, much like a penalty. About 1,000 papers were summoned under the Act.
Further restrictions were brought with the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. Even though the Press Emergency Act of 1931 was implemented, the government demanded more punitive censorship.
In the middle of such acts of censorship, the All-India Newspapers Editors’ Conference aimed at protecting the press rights in the country. They fought with the British government to lift the restrictions and advocated for better relations with the government.
The Post-Independent era came with The Press Enquiry Committee which was set up in 1947 with the aim of examining press laws in the light of fundamental rights formulated by the Constituent Assembly.
In 1951, the Press (Objectionable Matters) Act was passed along with an amendment to Article 19 (2), which empowered the government to demand and forfeit security for publication of “objectionable matter”. It remained in force till 1956.
And with such more additions and deletions, the face of the media changed many folds. From fighting for freedom of nation to fighting for who posts/publishes the reports first, we have started to skip the filter stage. A stage which is essential to provide the right kind of news.
Today on this day, let’s talk about certain important ethics that were designed in a manner that the news, reporting, details of the incidents, etc could reach the people of our country in an unbiased and non-judgmental way.
Oh no, I am not joking! and it’s no scam, there are actually certain ethics that are taught to everyone pursuing journalism. Without any further ado, let’s get into knowing what are the core ethics that define journalism in its meaning.
1. Truth and Accuracy: It is the duty of every journalist towards the nation to present the right “facts” and “information”, that should be accurate, checked, and also relevant.
This is the truth and accuracy we receive.
2. Independent in its voice: The Journalist presenting the news/case/facts must have their own stand, and not be on the sides of leftist or rightist. A declaration shall be given in case of interest conflict (if any).
Our independent voice be like.
3. The reporting should be fair and impartial: To build trust and confidence in the viewers it is important to have a balance in the story/news/case while presenting them. That means that you don’t have to necessarily present both sides of a coin but while presenting any side, it should be balanced rather than pressing on one side.
4. The reporting should be done with humanity: As a journalist, it’s their duty to report true and fair news but while doing that they should keep in mind the impact their words/reporting might have on the life of the person in question.
Journalists putting out the truth in a very humble manner.
5. In case of an error in reporting, should be accountable and address the error made and rectify: In cases where the reporting facts go wrong or there happens to be an error in reporting, take accountability and rectify.
This is how rectification is done.
They say Media is the fourth pillar of our democracy and is vital for the development and growth of our nation. A journalist acts as a catalyst and bridges the gap between the public and the government. Indeed they play a very crucial part in building our nation. We hope this National Journalism Day brings a new dawn and our bridge becomes much more strong and reliable.