The Press Council of India (PCI) on Wednesday advised the print media to follow the norms of Journalistic Conduct-2022 on ‘paid news’ during the elections in various States.
Stating that newspapers should not misconstrue or misquote the statements given by any leader, the PCI said the statements quoted in editorial should project the true spirit of what was being tried to be conveyed by them.
“Columns of news items which largely indicate names of voters on caste basis and supporters of the candidate of particular political party, such tenor and manner of presentation of news establish the report to be paid news,” it said.
Political news published in competing newspaper with similar content strongly suggests such reports to be paid news. Two newspapers publishing same news item verbatim during election days is not accidental and it is evident that such news items have been published for consideration. The manner of presentation of a news item/photograph that too in favour of a particular party/candidate as also the appeal for voting in favour of a particular party is suggestive of paid news, it said.
The Council said projecting a candidate’s success in election, who was yet to file a nomination, was also suggestive of paid news. News reports on campaign meeting and enthusiasm because film stars were present cannot be termed paid news.
“While covering news on election, the newspapers are advised to ensure balance in publishing report/interview of candidates. During the course of election, subject to conditions laid down by the Election Commission of India, newspapers are free to make an honest assessment of prospects of candidates or the parties and its publication would not be paid news so long it is not established that consideration passed on for such publication,” said the PCI.
Newspapers have also been told not to publish any news survey predicting the victory of any political party without verification of it.
“An attempt to influence the voters by projecting the contesting candidate with all virtues during the election is paid news. A news item giving negative aspect of a candidate and at the same time the positive aspect of candidate of other political party without any basis clearly shows that it is paid news,” it added.