Manish Tewari, former Minister of Information and Broadcasting, asks ‘what is news’

On the HRD’s move on “fake news”, now jettisoned, the strategy of Mainstream Media (MSM) has been two-pronged – One, it’s an assault on freedom of the press (yawn) and two, the government must define what’s “news”.

The second defence is a stonewalling lawyer’s argument and it fittingly it has come from Manish Tewari who is from the Congress stable of Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Sanghvi (the names say it all).

So what’s “news”? The news is information. If it is not truthfully reported, it’s “fake news”. One wonders why Tewari, once an Information and Broadcasting minister, never came to ask the media houses: “Sirs and Madams, that you are in the business of news, what does news really amount to?”

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Wish somebody had asked him while he was in the minister’s chair: “Sir, what do you think is news”. Mr Minister himself would’ve escorted the journalist out of the door. (As an aside, imagine worrying about the freedom of the press when not being able to define news as per se!).

So the idea is, if you can’t define what’s news, how would you define what’s “fake news”? This jugglery was meant to stonewall and embarrass Smriti Irani. Tiwari and the ‘pens for hire’, of course, would take no note of a number of fake news which appear on mainstream media daily and which OpIndia so brilliantly clubbed together recently.

Don’t expect these ‘journalists’ to come clean when caught with pants down. It runs to Press Council of India (PCI) for every speck of dust in the eye. But when the PCI chairman sees value in government’s move, the rogues of the stable—that’s mainstream media—don’t publish it.

They are not obliged to any regulatory measure.

The shameless feel no accountability towards their readers.

They wouldn’t care to inform you that accredited journalists do not amount to the entire community.

These self proclaimed harbingers of virtue won’t tell you that the charm of being “accredited journalists” are the perks and benefits which comes with the tag.

Only if the Editor’s Guild of India and News Broadcasters Association were under the RTI, we would’ve known how many, IF ANY, transgressions of mainstream media in all these years these two august bodies have censored. Or whether the only time they clear their throat is when they cry “assault on freedom of the press.”

Where all this jockeying leaves the readers? No better than vegetables in the eyes of the “journalists”, and we use this term loosely. Freedom of the press? My foot. Freedom to loot and subvert, and scavenge on the dead is more like it.

And India can go to hell.

Author of “How United States Shot Humanity”, Senior Journalist, TV Presenter

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