New Delhi: The Election Commission today cautioned the media on the issue of ‘paid news' by asking it to show “greater responsibility” with suitable disclaimers, particularly during election time.
“The minimum that is expected of ethical journalism is that the reader is cautioned by suitable disclaimers while such articles are published so that the unwary reader can make suitable allowance in his mind while forming his judgement. This matter assumes greater significance in the election period when the media needs to show greater responsibility,” the EC said in its order.
The observations were made in its order in which it found former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan guilty of failing to give his correct election expenses in the 2009 assembly polls.
Referring to certain articles published by some Maharashtra newspapers in the run-up to assembly polls in the state, it said Commission is of the considered view that the news articles cannot be treated as general news in normal course “as these are quite clearly received from political parties and reproduced by all such newspapers so as to pass as general news.”
The order said EC is concerned to note that certain newspapers have admitted to be sympathisers of the Congress party.
“While every newspaper/media house is entitled to its own philosophy (which could be akin to a political party's philosophy), what is sought to be published as news should be untinged by such philosophy as different from editorial.
The Election Commission order came on the complaint of former Maharashtra minister Madhavrao Kinhalkar, who was defeated by Chavan in the assembly polls and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain and Kirit Somaiya. The complainants had alleged that Chavan had not included the expenditure for 25 advertisements in Maharashtra newspapers in his accounts.