A compendium of broad principles evolved by the Press Council of India through its adjudications/principles was first published in 1983-84. In October, 1992, the Council published an updated but succinct compilation of the principles of journalistic ethics sorted out from the adjudication of the Council and the guidelines issued by it in their wake. The Guide of Journalistic Ethics was further revised and updated in 1995 by the then Chairman, Mr. Justice P.B. Sawant. Below are excerpts from the 1992 Guidelines.
1 The fundamental objective of journalism is to serve the people with news, views, comments and information on matters of public interest, in a fair, accurate, unbiased, sober and decent manner. Publication of inaccurate, baseless, graceless, misleading or distorted materials should be avoided. All sides of the core issue or subject should be reported.
2 Verification and checking of news before publication is necessary.
3 News of slanderous nature should be discarded.
4 News based on the report of an accredited correspondent should be discarded.
5 Unjustified rumours and surmises should not be set forth as facts.
6 Journalists should judge no one unheard.
7 Newspapers should not publish anything which is per se defamatory or libellous against any individual or organization.
8 Whenever a newspaper receives a report or article containing defamatory or derogatory imputations or comments against a public figure, public servant or public organization, touching his/her or its public conduct or character in so far as it appears in that conduct, the editor should, before publishing it, check with due care and attention, its factual accuracy apart from other authentic sources, with the person or the organization concerned to elicit his/her or its version, comments or reaction and publish the same.
9 This salutary rule of journalistic ethics and fairness follows as a necessary corollary from two basic principles:
a. The first is a fundamental canon of natural justice that no one should be condemned unheard.
b. The second is that freedom of the press is not merely a right of the publishers and editors but also of the readers’/peoples’ right to know all sides of an issue of public interest.
10 Newspapers should not present acts of violence and terrorist activities in a manner that glorifies these acts.
11 Newspapers should not pass on or elevate conjecture, speculation or comment as a statement of fact.
As a matter of fact, most of the media, both print and electronic, in West Bengal has always been very much biased and prejudiced against the C.P.I. (M), the Left Front and the Left Front Government. They never follow the minimum journalistic or the media ethics of the Press Council of India as enumerated above while publishing news in respect of CPI (M) and the Left Front Government. Now-a-days, their sole and only political aim is to instal Mamata Banerjee as the next Chief Minister of West Bengal by any how and at any cost. So, all their reporting is guided by this ultimate aim in mind. Every single news and reporting in respect of CPI (M) and the Left Front is based on distortions of fact, slanderous campaign, untruthfulness, defamatory, derogatory and misleading imputations, inaccuracy, partiality, unfairness and indecency. If Hitler and/or his Propaganda Minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels were alive, they would have hung their heads in shame and traumatized to see that their successors in the media of West Bengal have reached very very far-off surpassing them in all matters of fraudulency, deception, dishonesty, distortion of facts, manufacture and concoction of false & fake news and reports, slanderous campaign, unfairness and what not.
“Ananda Bazaar Patrika” is the leader and pioneer in this respect with ‘Star Anand’, ‘Bartaman’, ‘Pratidin’, ‘Sangbad’, “The Statesman” and others following it. Throwing all code of ethics of journalism and media guidelines to the winds, they are hell bent on disgracing, defaming, tarnishing and discrediting CPI (M) and its allies adhering to all sorts of polluted and desecrated methods.
The following are few of the glaring examples of their misdeeds.
(1) During Indo-China War, these media termed Communists as agents of China and tried to create public hysteria against them.
(2) During Indo-Pakistan War in 1965 and 1971 the media tried to term CPI (M) as the agent of Pakistan.
(3) The media created a hue and cry over the unfortunate incident at Rabindra Sarovar Stadium in 1967 and tried to slander CPI (M) and other Leftist parties saying that hundreds of women were raped and molested.
(4) A flood of concocted and fabricated stories were unleashed while reporting on the incident of Sain Bari at Burdwan.
(5) Most respected Forward Block leader Hemanta Bose was murdered by Naxalites in 1971. But the media tried to put the onus of the same on CPI (M).
(6) During 1969-1972 this media tried to glorify the Naxalites and justify the murder of hundreds of CPI (M) cadres by Congxals (Congress + Naxals).
(7) During Panchayat Election in 1998 this media spread concocted news that Chapala Sardar was raped by CPI (M) leaders in South 24, Parganas. Later it was proved false.
(8) During Nandigram episode this media spread fabricated false news that hundreds of women were raped and hundreds of minor children were murdered by CPI (M) cadres. But not even single case was proved true.
(9) Misusing the unfortunate death of Rizwanur Rahaman, they created unprecedented communal ill-feelings and hatred against CPI (M) and the Leftists during the last Parliamentary Elections.
(10) The media has been glorifying the Maoists in every possible manner and justifying their gruesome murder of CPI (M) cadres and leaders in Nandigram, Lalgarh, Jangalmahal and other areas.
(11) They have been justifying the violence perpetrated by the rainbow alliance of TMC-Congress-Maoists-SUCI in West Bengal on this or that plea.
They are in competition with one another as to who can manufacture, fabricate and concoctate fake and false news in respect of CPI (M) and the Leftist movement in West Bengal and the rest of the country. They are so much obsessed with anti-CPI (M) politics that even a slight rumour or gossip occupies captions of their front page.