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Editors’ guild hits back

New Delhi, Feb. 24: The Editors’ Guild of India has condemned barbs on the media hurled by political leaders and other public figures.

The trigger is a recent statement of former army chief V.K. Singh who used a pejorative term, “presstitutes”, to describe journalists over a report on the movement of army units that he felt had caused concern to the government. The guild said it was “distressed” over such language.

“The Editors Guild of India notes with concern the growing attacks and unsubstantiated charges levelled against the media by political leaders and public figures dissatisfied with the coverage of their activities or with criticism from the media,” the guild said in a statement.

It also criticised Arvind Kejriwal for attributing corrupt motives to a section of media critical of him. “The tendency to attack or abuse the media is not restricted to the newer players, and leaders of established parties are not immune to it either.

“Ironically, leaders who built up reputations and support by engaging the public through the media are now turning on the very media when they come under critical scrutiny,” the guild said.

It said “every section of society should be open to criticism, even if it is harsh, of its functioning and to its flaws being exposed”.

“The problem arises, however, when abuse and vague, unsubstantiated accusations of corrupt motives take the place of reasoned refutation and debate.

“An additional danger is that some of the followers could take their cue from the statements of leaders and may not stop with verbal attacks. Both print and television journalists have been subject to physical violence as well by political party workers,” the guild said.

It appealed to leaders and other public figures not to resort to vague, unsubstantiated charges and abuses when refuting, questioning or criticising the media, and urged them to keep the public discourse civil.