Close on the heels of the News Broadcasting Authority (NBA) announcing guidelines for crisis coverage, Anand Sharma, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting and External Affairs, announced the setting up of a Standing Media Consultative Committee, to be chaired by the Secretary, Information & Broadcasting, with representatives of key Ministries, NBA and Editor’s Guild as members.
The Centre has welcomed the news coverage guidelines formulated by the NBA with respect to coverage of crisis situations.
Calling it a step in the right direction, Sharma stressed upon the need for mature news broadcasting in the country, and said that the Mumbai terror attacks were a learning opportunity both for the Government and the media.
The Minister informed that high level meetings were held between representatives of media and secretaries of key Ministries like Home, Defence, Tourism and Information & Broadcasting to agree upon and formulate ethics of news journalism in modern era. He said, “The news broadcasters appreciated the concerns expressed by various security and administrative outfits and agreed to address them.”
He added, “Extraordinary circumstances require careful coverage, not hampering rescue or counter operations”, and added that a training programme was being introduced in consultation with the Ministries of Home and Defence for media persons on how to cover crisis situations, without exposing themselves to the risks.
Commenting on the training programme for the media, Ashutosh, Managing Editor, IBN7, said, “I believe training programmes are always good and welcome. Media should understand the sensitivity of such situations. The training programme will only help further understanding between media and the Government.”
As is the practice in most Western countries, a mechanism is being put in place for holding official briefing for the media and supplying authorised video footage for broadcast during crisis situations. He cited examples of 9/11 and the London bombings, and said, not one mutilated body or any gory scenes were shown, because the respective countries had standard media norms in place.
Commenting on the steps taken by the Government, a senior NDTV official said, “We at NDTV believe in self regulation. We have been responsible in our coverage and will continue to do so. We do not want any Government interference and are confident that we can do a fine job.”
Mumbai siege coverage: NBA unveils guidelines for terror reporting on channels