20) Covering communal disputes/clashes
i) News, views or comments relating to communal or religious
disputes/clashes shall be published after proper verification of facts and
presented with due caution and restraint in a manner which is conducive to
the creation of an atmosphere congenial to communal harmony, amity and
peace. Sensational, provocative and alarming headlines are to be avoided.
Acts of communal violence or vandalism shall be reported in a manner as
may not undermine the people's confidence in the law and order machinery of
the State. Giving community-wise figures of the victims of communal riot, or
writing about the incident in a style which is likely to inflame passions,
aggravate the tension, or accentuate the strained relations between the
communities/religious groups concerned, or which has a potential to
exacerbate the trouble, shall be avoided.
ii) Journalists and columnists owe a very special responsibility to their
country in promoting communal peace and amity. Their writings are not a
mere reflection of their own feelings but help to large extent in moulding the
feelings and sentiments of the society at large. It is, therefore, of utmost
importance that they use their pen with circumspection and restrain.
iii) The role of media in such situations (Gujarat Carnage/Crisis) is to be
peacemakers and not abettors, to be troubleshooters and not troublemakers.
Let the media play their noble role of promoting peace and harmony among
the people in the present crisis in Gujarat. Any trend to disrupt the same
either directly or indirectly would be an anti-national act. There is a greater
moral responsibility on the media to do their best to build up the national
solidarity and to re-cement the communal harmony at all levels remembering
the noble role they had played during the pre-independence days.
iv) The media, as a chronicle of tomorrow’s history, owes an undeniable duty
to the future to record events as simple untailored facts. The analysis of the
events and opinion thereon are a different genre altogether. The treatment of
the two also thus has necessarily to be different. In times of crisis, facts
unadorned and simply put, with due care and restraint, cannot be reasonably
objected to in a democracy. However, a heavy responsibility devolves on the
author of opinion articles. The author has to ensure that not only are his or
her analysis free from any personal preferences, prejudices or notions, but
also they are based on verified, accurate and established facts and do not tend
to foment disharmony or enmity between castes, communities and races.
v) While the role and responsibility of the media in breaking down
communal fences and promoting harmony and national interest should not be
undermined it is also essential to allow the citizens their freedom of speech.
The press of India has necessarily to judge and balance the two.
21. Headings not to be sensational/provocative and must justify the
matter printed under them
i) In general and particularly in the context of communal disputes or clashes
a. Provocative and sensational headlines are to be avoided;
b. Headings must reflect and justify the matter printed under them;
c. Headings containing allegations made in statements should either identify
the body or the source making it or at least carry quotation marks.
22. Caste, religion or community references
i) In general, the caste identification of a person or a particular class
should be avoided, particularly when in the context it conveys a sense or
attributes a conduct or practice derogatory to that caste.
ii) Newspapers are advised against the use of word 'Scheduled Caste' or
'Harijan' which has been objected to by some.
iii) An accused or a victim shall not be described by his caste or
community when the same does not have anything to do with the offence or
the crime and plays no part either in the identification of any accused or
proceeding, if there be any.
iv) Newspaper should not publish any fictional literature distorting and
portraying the religious or well known characters in an adverse light
offending the susceptibilities of large sections of society who hold those
characters in high esteem, invested with attributes of the virtuous and lofty.
(v) Commercial exploitation of the name of prophets, seers or deities is
repugnant to journalistic ethics and good taste.
vi) It is the duty of the newspaper to ensure that the tone, spirit and
language of a write up is not objectionable, provocative, against the unity and
integrity of the country, spirit of the constitution seditious and inflammatory
in nature or designed to promote communal disharmony. It should also not
attempt to promote balkanisation of the country.
vii) One of the jobs of the journalists is also to bring forth to the public
notice the plight of the weaker sections of society. They are the watchdogs
on behalf of the society of its weaker sections.