The Press Council of India on Tuesday asked the media to give objective reports about the election and cautioned it against the phenomenon of paid news. Issuing guidelines for the media, the Press Council Of India (PCI) said newspapers are not expected to indulge in unhealthy election campaigns, exaggerated reports about any candidate or party during the elections.
"It will be the duty of the press to give objective reports about the election and the candidates," the PCI said in a statement. While reporting on the actual campaign, a newspaper may not leave out any important point raised by a candidate and make an attack on his or her opponent, it said.
The print media watchdog also cautioned the press to eschew reports which tend to promote feelings or enmity or hatred between people on the grounds of region, religion, race, caste, community or language. The press should refrain from publishing false or critical statements in regard to the personal character and conduct of any candidate or in relation to the candidature or withdrawal of any candidate or candidature, to prejudice the prospects of that candidate in the elections, it said.
The PCI also cautioned against publishing unverified allegations against any candidate or party. The council said whenever the newspapers publish pre-poll surveys, they should take care to preface them conspicuously by indicating the institutions which have carried on such surveys, the individuals and organisations which have commissioned them, the size and nature of sample selected and the method of selection of the sample for the findings.
The PCI asked the media to guard against paid news which it defined as "any news or analysis appearing in any media (print & electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration". It also urged authorities that rules and orders regulating entry of the media persons to places of election should be notified and the cut-off date for applying for passes should be given due and advance publicity.
"The authorities cannot prohibit the use of vehicles by the media persons for movement during elections although its use for the voters by candidates and their agents is prohibited because the journalist have to move from booth to booth and collect information from all the centres whether on the polling day or at the time of counting," it said.
(With inputs from agencies.)