The media, which has a duty to conduct itself responsibly, cannot be allowed to aggravate the vulnerability of people who are already being targeted, vilified and demonized, by the state and other vested and dominant interests. The problem of hate speech is compounded when propagated by members of the press. This is because unlike the situation where the person making the hate speech is a politician or an ordinary citizen/internet user, the media is expected to be comparatively neutral while reporting events. The media being the fourth estate has considerable influence over the society and it is easy for the line, between fact-reporting and the personal or political views of a journalist, to be blurred.
When prominent journalists start branding human rights activists as Maoists and anti-nationals, it becomes hate speech because of its potential to incite members of the public to commit acts of violence/hatred against the activists based on the views held by them.
The repeated branding of activists as ‘anti-national’ or ‘unpatriotic’ – words that are terms of abuse and hate-speech, and that can, when repeated ad nauseam in an influential media space, have serious repercussions.
It is inappropriate and irresponsible for channels to label anyone as ‘nationalist’ or ‘anti-national’ or ‘terrorist’ or the like. If panelists indulge in such terms, it is in fact the duty of the anchor to rein them in, and to ensure that such loaded and provocative words are not used to drown out the substantive points of the discussion or disagreement.
For moderators of the debate to allow such terms to be hurled at participants, and in fact to endorse and repeat such terms, is a gross abuse of the media’s immense power.
As a citizen of India, I humbly request the system to take a strict action against The Republic for spreading hatred among communities and insult well known personalities.
The Republic also , while organising debate impose their own opinions on other panelists.
We believe it is important to seek transparency and accountability from the media. We are concerned when journalistic ethics outlined by the National Broadcasting Authority are willfully and habitually violated. We would like to cite here relevant portions of the Code of Ethics issued by the NBA.
"News shall not be selected or designed to promote any particular belief, opinion or desires of any interest group....
"Broadcasters shall ensure a full and fair presentation of news as the same is the fundamental responsibility of each news channel. Realizing the importance of presenting all points of view in a democracy, the broadcasters should, therefore, take responsibility in ensuring that controversial subjects are fairly presented, with time being allotted fairly to each point of view....
"TV News channels must provide for neutrality by offering equality for all affected parties, players and actors in any dispute or conflict to present their point of view. Though neutrality does not always come down to giving equal space to all sides (news channels shall strive to give main view points of the main parties) news channels must strive to ensure that allegations are not portrayed as fact and charges are not conveyed as an act of guilt."
"Avoid broadcasting content that is malicious, biased, regressive, knowingly inaccurate, hurtful, misleading...."