New Delhi: Noting that the irresponsible conduct of some news channels has made the national discourse coarse and the gap between communities unbridgeable, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Wednesday asked them to pause and take a critical look at what they have done just to increase viewership and profit during the Kanpur violence.
It also called for stricter vigilance by broadcasters and journalist bodies, noting that the recent incident of violence in Kanpur that caused “unnecessary embarrassment” to the country could have been avoided if those news channels had been mindful of the nation’s constitutional commitment to secularism, as well as journalistic ethics and guidelines of the Press Council of India.
Violence had erupted in parts of Kanpur after Friday prayers as members of two communities indulged in brick-batting and hurled bombs over attempts to shut shops in protest against remarks against Prophet Mohammad by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a TV debate. “The Editors Guild of India is disturbed by the irresponsible conduct of some national news channels for deliberately creating circumstances that target vulnerable communities by spewing hatred towards them and their beliefs,” the Editors’ body said in a statement.
Expectedly, there was a riot in Kanpur accompanied by an “unprecedented trenchant reaction” from many countries that were offended by the remarks of the ruling party spokespersons, it said, adding that in their angry statements they wondered about India’s commitment to human rights and freedom of religion.
“The incident that caused unnecessary embarrassment to the country could have been avoided if some of the TV outlets had been mindful of the nation’s constitutional commitment to secularism, as well as the journalistic ethics and guidelines that the Press Council of India has issued to handle a volatile communal situation,” the EGI said.
Instead, some of these channels prompted by the desire to increase viewership and profit were seemingly inspired by the values of Radio Rwanda whose incendiary broadcast caused a genocide in the African nation, it added.
“The EGI demands that these channels pause and take a critical look at what they have done by giving legitimacy to divisive and toxic voices that has made the national discourse coarse and the gap between communities unbridgeable,” the Editors’ body said.
“The EGI also demands stricter vigilance by broadcaster and journalist bodies to prevent a recurrence of this from taking place,” it added. The media is in place to strengthen the Constitution and the law, and not break it through sheer irresponsibility and absence of accountability, the EGI said.