IJU condemns Jharkhand govt’s ‘paid news’ bid

NEW DELHI, Sep 20: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has voiced serious concern over the Jharkhand government’s bid to influence media reportage in its favour by inviting journalists to write about its welfare schemes and offering them money in return.
According to its affiliate, the Jharkhand Working Journalists’ Union (JWJU), the BJP government of Raghuvar Das recently issued an advertisement in various newspapers through its IPR department, inviting articles on its public welfare schemes, stating that 30 selected journalists, from both print and electronic media, would be paid Rs 15,000 each, and that 25 of the articles would be part of a book to be published, for which journalists would be paid Rs 5,000 each as “samman rashi (honorarium).”
Not only does such appeasement of media have a direct impact on a democratic society, it is unethical, and the state’s journalists must see it as an insult and not fall into this trap of temptation, the JWJU said.
In a statement, IJU Acting President Geetartha Pathak and Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit condemned
the action, saying “such open monetary allurement is unprecedented and goes against the very ethos of journalism.”
They described it as another case of ‘paid news’, “which not only undermines independent media but hoodwinks the citizens to influence them before the coming assembly elections.”
The IJU has demanded that the Jharkhand government issue another advertisement, withdrawing the previous one, and desist from such unethical practices.
It also said the Press Council of India must take suo moto notice and make the government answerable.