With a petitioners’ plea in the Supreme Court that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was given Rs 4.98 billion to be spent on the ‘welfare’ of the journalists, it is in the fitness of things that details of how and to whom this largesse was distributed should be made public. As the SC has endorsed the petitioners’ point of view, it is hoped that the details of the sordid-sounding affair will be made known. There should be no funds for the information ministry to dole out to journalists because it is a morally and ethically reprehensible act. Journalists getting undue favours from the state could be involved in twisting reports, hushing up the truth, hoodwinking the public; in short, betraying their trust to their readers and viewers and reporting only what the government wants them to.

The scandalous nature of the fund must be exposed. This is necessary first to restore the public’s trust impinged by rumours that an errant section of media has been pocketing funds. The black sheep must be identified, so the rest of the community can be spared the negative opinion. The incident should not be used to badmouth the media. With no dearth of those who have jumped into the controversy to malign and muzzle the media, the Information Ministry must come clean about how it has been making use of the secret funds.