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Immunise against 'virus of infodemic': Anurag Thakur to media houses

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Anurag Thakur addresses during the DNPA Conclave & Awards 2024, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.

Anurag Thakur addresses during the DNPA Conclave & Awards 2024, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.

New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Tuesday voiced concern over the prevalence of clickbait headlines and fake news, and urged media houses to re-occupy the space of responsible, fair and balanced journalism.

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Addressing the Storyboard18-Digital News Publishers Association Conclave here, he also urged media houses to "immunise" themselves against the "virus of infodemic" that continues to inflict disinformation on societies across the world.

The government will soon bring a digital advertising policy which will "benefit the industry so that you do not have to face revenue loss for creating good content", the minister said.

Thakur said the government supported self-regulation for the media, but it did not mean a license to "err and err intentionally" as it would erode credibility.

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"We may have left the pandemic behind us, but a debilitating infomedic seems here to stay. It is for the media to reflect and self-introspect on how to immunise itself from the virus of infodemic which continues to inflict disinformation on societies across geographies. We really need to look into this," the minister said.

Thakur said a related concern was paid news and fake news. "Clickbait journalism contributes nothing to media credibility and it contributes even less to nation building," he said, adding that the advent of new technologies presents a unique opportunity to break barriers.

"We must remain cautious not to accept anything and everything in the name of innovation and modernity. We embrace artificial intelligence. We must educate our youth especially on its potential for good, while cautioning against its misuse of deep fakes and forgery," Thakur said.

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The minister slammed certain media outlets, both foreign and local, for working with an anti-India bias which, he said, was reflected in their reportage.

"They come with fabricated reports which have no scientific basis. They have created such a nexus that even when they are questioned by agencies for their wrongdoings, which are against the law of the land, they shout and tell the world that there is threat to the media in the country," Thakur said without naming any particular media house.

He said according to the law of the land, every institution should be treated equally and there should be no attempts of cover-up on the pretext of being a media house.

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