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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Journalists must resist being ‘co-opted by ideology or state’: CJI Ramana

Delivering the keynote address at the presentation of RedInk Awards by Mumbai Press Club, the CJI said, “The judiciary is a robust pillar.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: December 30, 2021 3:18:58 am
CJI N V Ramana, NV Ramana, Supreme Court, Supreme Court collegium, high courts, Delhi HC, Kerala HC, Calcutta HC, Indian Express, India newsChief Justice of India N V Ramana. (File)

UNDERLINING THAT judiciary is working to further Constitutional goals despite all constraints, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Wednesday said there is a “recent trend to sermonize about judgments, and villainise judges” which “needs to be checked”.

Delivering the keynote address at the presentation of RedInk Awards by Mumbai Press Club, the CJI said, “The judiciary is a robust pillar. Despite all constraints, it is working to further Constitutional goals. The media must have belief and trust in judiciary. As a key stakeholder in democracy, media has the duty to defend and protect the judiciary from motivated attacks by evil forces. We are together in Mission Democracy and in promoting national interest. We have to sail together.”

Recalling his own brief stint as a journalist, the CJI referred to the struggles media professionals undergo. “Speaking truth to power and holding up a mirror to society is an immense responsibility…. There is enormous pressure and stress upon you. In the contemporary world, performing your duty as a journalist is akin to dancing on razor’s edge,” he said. “Some of those in powerful positions, both political leaders and bureaucracy, mafia of all shades and those on the wrong side of the law — none of them are comfortable with a professional journalist.”

Referring to the emergence of digital media platforms and social media reporting, CJI Ramana said while some changes brought by this is for the better, they “have also resulted in certain issues with the journalism that is worrying”.

“In the race for ratings, the important journalistic tenet of verification before publishing is not being followed… this leads to incorrect reporting,” he said. “The social media amplifies that incorrect news in a matter of seconds. Once published it is difficult to take back. Unlike print and electronic media, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to hold the social media platforms such as YouTube accountable even after they host most derogatory and defamatory stuff which has potential to ruin careers and lives.” The CJI asked media professionals to come forward with solutions.

“Another trend that I witness in reporting nowadays is the seeping of ideological stances and biases into the news story,” he said.

“Interpretation and opinions are colouring what should be factual reports. News mixed with views is a dangerous cocktail. Connected to this is the problem of partial reporting, of cherry-picking facts to give it a particular colour. For instance, select portions of a speech get highlighted – mostly out of context – to suit a certain agenda,” he said.

He reminded journalists that “allowing” oneself “to be co-opted by an ideology or State is a recipe for disaster”. “Journalists are like judges in one sense. Regardless of the ideology you profess and beliefs you hold dear, you must do your duty without being influenced by them. You must report only facts, with a view to give a complete, accurate picture.”

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