ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Manufacturing 'News'

The phenomenon of "paid news" wherein newspapers, magazines and TV channels are paid for eulogies of particular candidates and political parties, which then masquerade as independent news, became widespread on the eve of the Lok Sabha and assembly elections of 2009. The Election Commission brought out a circular in 2010 asking the chief electoral officers of all states and union territories to be extra vigilant about this electoral malpractice. Will this be strictly implemented in the forthcoming assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal? What kind of media regulatory mechanism should be in place to curb this unethical and illegal practice?

COMMENTARY
Manufacturing ‘News’ Paranjoy Guha Thakurta union territories directing their attention to the “recent phenomenon” of “paid news” which had become “alarming” as a “serious electoral malpractice”. The EC’s principal secretary Tapas Kumar wrote that

The phenomenon of “paid news” wherein newspapers, magazines and TV channels are paid for eulogies of particular candidates and political parties, which then masquerade as independent news, became widespread on the eve of the Lok Sabha and assembly elections of 2009. The Election Commission brought out a circular in 2010 asking the chief electoral officers of all states and union territories to be extra vigilant about this electoral malpractice. Will this be strictly implemented in the forthcoming assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal? What kind of media regulatory mechanism should be in place to curb this unethical and illegal practice?

Portions of this piece have been based on an earlier article written by the author for Outlook (1 November 2010).

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