COVID-19: How print players are fighting fake news with public service announcements

While global bodies such as the World Health Organization are actively fighting COVID-19 misinformation on the Internet and social media platforms through fundraising and awareness campaigns, it is the responsibility of every media owner to fight misinformation and rumour mongering that are being deployed opportunistically. 

In an earlier report, Adgully had showcased how opportunistic brands are pandering to #CoronaVirus fears and misleading consumers into buying their product. Media watchdogs such as the Advertising Standards Council  of India (ASCI) are doing their part in taking action against such bad actors but as the age of saying goes ‘precaution is better than cure’. 

Print players have banded together in a concerted effort to fight fake news and misinformation and between Saturday 21st March and Sunday 22nd March all major publishers will release a joint communication. Dainik Bhaskar Group has developed the initiative which has been taken up by the brand and marketing heads of all the newspapers in the logo line.

English dailies, The Times of India (17th March), The Hindu (20th March), and Hindustan Times (19th March) have released a tactical communication addressing the situation. The Hindu communication is directed at ‘marketers, companies and individuals’ urging them not to use misinformation for personal gain. 

The HT copy reads “the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) entails responsible individual, social and institutional behaviour”. 

The ToI report reads “to avail special rates for any message, product or service around COVID-19”, inviting people who want to make public service announcements to advertise in the newspaper. 

Regional players, Dainik Jagran (20th March), Dainik Bhaskar (20th March), Amar Ujala (4th March), Lokmat and Mathrubhumi have also released public service announcements or full page editorials dedicated to COVID-19, specifically to raise awareness amongst their readers. These communications are more focused on what individuals can do to curb the spread of the virus.


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