Vice President Ansari on the Crucial Role of Editors in the Media
Vice President Hamid Ansari spoke about the editorial responsibility of journalists and contrarian views.
Vice President Hamid Ansari inaugurated a seminar on the ‘Role of Editors in Today’s Media’ organised by Rajya Sabha Television on Saturday, 19 March. He had some solid advice for the newsrooms across the country.
It is said that an editor’s is a thankless job. He is respected, feared, even hated. The story is related that Napoleon once shot at a magazine editor, missed him and killed the publisher; the narrator added that Napoleon’s intentions were good!
Citing an editorial by senior political journalist AS Paneerselvam of The Hindu, Ansari said:
What is in the public interest and what the public is interested in – in a manner where issues of public interest are not subsumed by the dictates of what the public is interested in.
In the name of public interest, Ansari called out the trend of pseudo timeliness and disregard for factual accuracy.
To uphold journalistic ethos and values, an editor must ensure that the content is accurate and relevant. That required the editor to be impartial and independent, but there has been an erosion in the role and the position of the editor in recent years.Hamid Ansari
There was a blurring of the boundary between an editorial and an advertisement, the Vice President said.
Ansari narrated a quote from the book, The Elements of Journalism, authored by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel:
While editorialists and commentators are not neutral, the source of their credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform – not their devotion to a certain group or outcome. In our independence, however, journalists must avoid straying into arrogance, elitism, isolation or nihilism.
In a rolling news environment, the speed in providing information had become crucial, he said.
“However, the need to guarantee accuracy is even more important in the information frenzy we seem to be experiencing. Our own recent experience has shown how erroneous reports exacerbate social and communal divides.”
There had been cases when news organisations aired content whose veracity and antecedents were doubtful – with disastrous consequences, he said.
“While such content may, in the short run, increase visibility or serve preferred political patronage, it eventually detracts from the credibility of the press and eats into the civil liberties,” the Vice President said.
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