NEW DELHI: The Editors Guild of India, the apex body of print journalists in the country, on Thursday took exception to the Union government blaming the media, in Supreme Court, for speaking panic among migrant workers leading to their mass movement in the wake of the 21-day countrywide lockdown.
Saying it was “deeply perturbed” by the submission, the Guild said in a statement that this had led the apex court to observe that while it didn’t want to inhibit the debate on the pandemic in any way? The media should refer to and publish the official version of the developments pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic. “The Guild would stage in all humility that it holds the court in the highest respect, but finds this advise gratuitous and unnecessary,” the statement said.
It also asserted that blaming the media would only “undermine the current work being done by it under trying circumstances. “Such charges can also obstruct in the process of dissemination of news during an unprecedented crisis facing the country. No democracy anywhere in the world is fighting the pandemic by gagging its media,” the Guild said.
The Guild also termed as “overreaction and act of intimidation” the government’s decision to lodge an FIR against the editor in chief of the news website TheWire. “Any such intimidation of the media or blaming the media for mass migration of workers will be counterproductive. Such actions will be tantamount to disabling the messenger,” the Guild statement said.
The Editor’s Guild also said that while it believed that media should be responsible, free and fair, any “interference” by the government will only “undermine these goals.”