Vice president Ansari deplores erosion in role of editor

New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Instances of editorial daring and adherence to high ethical standards in journalism have become few and far between, Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Saturday.

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“There was a time, not long ago, when newspaper editors were intellectual stalwarts who acted as the brain trust of the country,” Ansari said, delivering the inaugural address at a seminar on the ‘Role of Editors in Today’s Media,’ organised by Rajya Sabha Television.

“To uphold journalistic ethos and values, an editor must ensure that the content is accurate and relevant,” he said.

That required the editor to be impartial and independent, but there has been an erosion in the role and the position of the editor in recent years, he said.

There was a blurring of boundary between an editorial and an advertisement, the Vice President said.

In a rolling news environment, the speed in providing information had become crucial, he said.

“However, the need to guarantee accuracy is even more important in the information frenzy we seem to be experiencing. Our own recent experience has shown how erroneous reports exacerbate social and communal divides.”

There had been cases when news organisations aired content whose veracity and antecedents were doubtful – with disastrous consequences, he said.

“While such content may, in the short run, increase visibility or serve preferred political patronage, it eventually detracts from the credibility of the press and eats into the civil liberties,” the Vice President said.

The reporting has to be accurate and mistakes corrected quickly, he said, adding that the editor has to be an independent observer of power and fair and respectful to the readers or the audience.

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