Following an extraordinary meeting of the executive committee, the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) has appealed to its members as well as other journalists in Goa to report to its Ethics Committee, any unethical demands if made on them by their management of newspapers and news channels in the course of their professional duties. This precaution is needed especially in view of the fast approaching Goa Assembly elections.
The GUJ executive met to discuss a complaint forwarded to it for action by journalist and GUJ member Mayabhushan Nagvekar pertaining to a complaint of “paid news” he had lodged with Press Council of India (PCI) against local newspaper Herald last week.
The GUJ executive discussed the issue and noted in its resolution that the complaint about “paid news” was a serious issue as it pertains to ethics of the profession and accepted Mayabhushan Nagvekar’s contention that the sting was undertaken in public interest and in the interest of the professional ethics.
The GUJ also noted that the malpractice of “paid news” had taken place rampantly in Goa during the 2007 Assembly elections and as reader/viewer continues to be unorganised there is no possibility of public check on the same. Therefore, it is the duty of the journalists and GUJ members to stand up against any such practices that will damage the credibility of the profession. This is the part of self-regulation.
As has been its practice pertaining to complaints of breach of professional ethics, the GUJ Executive decided to immediately handover the complaint to Ethics Committee of the GUJ to thoroughly probe the same and report to the Executive. Secondly, on its part the Executive decided to write to Press Council of India to investigate the complaint speedily. A copy of the same will also be forwarded to the Election Commission. It also decided to forward the complaint to Goa Editors’ Guild to take appropriate action.
GUJ executive noted with concern complaints presently informally coming from GUJ members regarding unethical demands from some organisations, for instance, reporters being asked to collect advertisements for their paper, which eventually compromises a journalist’s professional integrity. These practices are equally dangerous as the ‘paid news.’ Therefore, while appealing and encouraging members and other journalists to approach Ethics Committee for any unethical demands on them, the executive has asked the Ethics Committee headed by Ashley do Rosario to probe such complaints for prima facie case and immediately take them up with the Press Council of India (PCI) and the Election Commission of India if a complaint also pertains to election-related coverage. The Ethics Committee will protect the identity/confidentiality of the complainants.
As has been its practice, the GUJ executive has decided to fully back its member over the complaint done in public interest and in the interest of the profession without passing any judgement over the allegation till it is investigated.
The GUJ has also appealed to Goa Editors’ Guild to stand up to any attempts from any management to compromise professional integrity by unethical demands to be part of “paid news” during the forthcoming elections and otherwise also. The GUJ has extended its full support to Goa Editors’ Guild in this endeavour.