New Delhi: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu urged the Press to not color news with views and stressed the need to maintain objectivity, fairness and accuracy. “The neutrality and sanctity of newsrooms should be upheld at all times,” he said on 16 November at an event organised by the Press Council of India on the occasion of National Press Day. Naidu expressed concern over the fact that business groups and even political parties are setting up newspapers and TV channels to further their interests. “With this the core values of journalism are getting eroded,” he said. Speaking about the abrogation of Article 370, he said that it was only a temporary provision which was removed by the Parliament with huge majority, and appealed to Indian journalists to convey the right facts to the world about Kashmir.
Naidu also presented the ‘Excellence in Journalism’ Awards at the event. He said that the cardinal principle of journalism is to present fair, objective, accurate and balanced information to the reader and viewer without journalists assuming the role of the gatekeepers.
The Vice President further said that this has become all the more critical in present times after the advent of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon and the huge impact that social media is creating. “Sensationalism, biased coverage and paid news have become the modern-day afflictions of the media,” he said, adding that under no circumstances can slanted and opinionated reporting be termed as ‘interpretative reporting.’
Maintaining that freedom and responsibility cannot be considered inseparable, he opined that Press must not only act as the watchdog to protect democracy but also as the true champion of the underdog. It must be in the vanguard of fighting the ills that are plaguing the society.
Naidu said that the media landscape has transformed dramatically over the years and so have the values of journalism. In the past, journalism was treated a mission for the nation’s service. Talking about the present state of affairs, he asked journalists’ bodies like PCI to commit to a serious introspection.
Naidu said that the time has come for media bodies to come out with a code of conduct for journalists. “In view of the critical role journalism plays in protecting democracy and in serving the larger good of the society, we should strengthen this important fourth pillar by ensuring that ‘truth’ is never compromised,” he added.
Noting that mobile phones are revolutionizing the manner in which we share information, he said every smart phone user has become a potential journalist. “No doubt, the internet and mobile telephony have democratized the availability of information. However, the glut of information is also generating fake news and fake narratives,” he added, cautioning that, “journalists must guard against such news and fake narratives as they can be used by vested interests to create dissensions and divisions in our pluralistic society.”
The Vice President also appealed to media to provide greater space to development news and important sectors such as agriculture.
Admitting that legislations alone cannot the bring desired change, he called upon the media to play a positive role in creating public opinion on the need to eradicate corruption and social evils like gender and caste discrimination. “We have seen the positive impact created by the media in promoting the campaign for a Clean India”, he said.
During this occasion, the Vice President also gave away the awards to the winners of ‘National Awards for Excellence in Journalism 2019’ under various categories.Eminent journalist Shri Gulab Kothari was awarded the prestigious ‘Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award’ for his outstanding journalism.
Naidu also released three publications namely – the Directory of Press Council of India since 1966, the updated Norms of Journalistic Conduct Edition -2019 and a souvenir, ‘Reporting-Interpretation–A journey’ on the occasion.
Union Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar, PCI Chairperson, Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, Convener, Jury Committee and Member, PCI, Shri Jai Shankar Gupta and Secretary, PCI, Smt. Anupama Bhatnagar were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion. Representatives from various foreign countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar also attended the event.
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