A day after the The I&B Ministry sent out a circular stating that the accreditation of a journalist, found to have “created and/or propagated” fake news, will be suspended or permanently cancelled, the Prime Minister’s Office Tuesday ordered its withdrawal. The PMO, it is learnt, directed that the matter be addressed in the Press Council on India.
Drawing widespread criticism from journalists and even some Opposition members on Tuesday, I&B Minister Smriti Irani invited suggestions from journalists and organisations on fighting “the menace of ‘fake news'”. Taking to Twitter, she said, “.@MIB_India is more than happy to engage with journalist body or organisation/s wanting to give suggestions so that together we can fight the menace of ‘fake news’ & uphold ethical journalism. Interested journalists and/or organisations may feel free to meet me at @MIB_India.”
The Editors Guild of India strongly condemned the “arbitrary” measure contemplated by the I&B Ministry to regulate fake news. It said the Ministry’s decision was meant to “browbeat and muzzle the press.”
“By notifying that the I & B Ministry will initiate such proceedings, the Government was arrogating for itself the role of policing the media. It would have opened the door for frivolous complaints to harass journalists and organisations to fall in line,” the Editors Guild said.