India – Reporting and commenting on communal incidents (1968)

Code of Ethics for the press in reporting and commenting on communal incidents. All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference: Adopted in 1968.

1. A free press can flourish only in a free society. Communalism is a threat to the fabric of our free society and to the nation’s solidarity.

2. The press has a vital role to play in the consummation of the fundamental objectives enshrined in our Constitution, namely, democracy, secularism, national unity, and integrity and the rule of law. It is the duty of the press to help promote unity and cohesion in the hearts and minds of the people, and refrain from publishing material tending to excite communal passions or inflame communal hatred.

3. To this end the press should adhere to the following guidelines in reporting on communal incidents in the country:
a) All editorial comments and other expressions of opinion, whether through articles, letters to the Editor, or in any other form should be restrained and free from scurrilous attacks against leaders or communities, and there should be no incitement to violence.
b) Generalised allegations casting doubts and aspersions on the Patriotism and loyalty of any community should be eschewed.
c) Likewise, generalised charges and allegations against any community of unfair discrimination, amounting to inciting communal hatred and distrust, must also be eschewed.
d) Whereas truth should not be suppressed, a deliberate slanting of news of communal incidents should be avoided.
e) News of incidents involving loss of life, lawlessness, arson, etc. should be described, reported, and headlined with restraint in strictly objective terms and should not be heavily displayed.
f) Items of news calculated to make for peace and harmony and help in the restoration and maintenance of law and order should be given prominence and precedence over other news.
g) The greatest caution should be exercised in the selection and publication of pictures, cartoons, poems, etc. so as to avoid arousing communal passions or hatred.
h) Names of communities should not be mentioned nor the terms “majority” and “minority” communities be ordinarily used in the course of reports.
i) The source from which casualty figures are obtained should always be indicated.
j) No facts or figures should be published without fullest possible verification. However, if the publication of the facts or figures is likely to have the effect of arousing communal passions, those facts and figures may not be given.

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