The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today said that any attack on the freedom of the press is detrimental to national interests and should be opposed by one and all.
In a pre-recorded video message at a webinar on ‘Role of media during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on media’ organized by the Press Council of India on the occasion of the National Press Day, the Vice President said “Democracy cannot survive without a free and fearless press”.
He said the Press in India has always been in the vanguard of protecting and strengthening the foundations of democracy. “A robust, free and vibrant media is as important as an independent judiciary in consolidating democracy and strengthening constitutional rule of law”, the Vice President stressed.
Describing journalism as a pious mission, he lauded the Press for playing an outstanding role in empowering the people and furthering national interest.
At the same time, Shri Naidu advised the media on its part to be fair, objective and accurate in its reporting. “Sensationalism should be avoided and the tendency to mix news with views needs to be curbed. Also, there should be greater space for development news in our reporting”, he added.
The Vice President also praised the print and electronic media journalists for turning into frontline warriors in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring non-stop coverage of all the happenings, unmindful of the grave risks associated with a pandemic situation.
“My deepest appreciation to each and every journalist, cameramen and others, who have been striving constantly to disseminate news and information”, he added.
The Vice President also stressed the importance of conveying the right information at the right time in a pandemic situation, “especially when there is a plethora of fake news”, he observed.
Pointing to the need to guard against unverified and unsubstantiated claims, the Vice President said that media has a huge role in educating the masses in this regard.
He conveyed his deepest condolences to the families of many journalists, who had succumbed to COVID-19 infection.
Referring to the adverse impact of COVID-19 crisis on media industry, he said it has led some newspapers to curtail their editions and go digital. “There have been unfortunate instances of employees being laid off in both print and electronic media”, Shri Naidu added.
Stating that journalists should not be left high and dry in these difficult times, the Vice President appealed to all stakeholders to come together and find innovative solutions to the extraordinary situation created by the Corona virus.
Observing that the pandemic has underscored the need for media organizations to adopt flexible and resilient business models, Shri Naidu pointed out that more and more people were staying at home and increasingly relying on the media and the entertainment industry for the latest information and to fight the isolation caused by the lack of social interactions.
Citing the huge popularity of the re-telecast of Ramayana and Mahabharata serials as an example, the Vice President suggested to the media industry to tap into increased audience base and explore alternative ways to improve its financial health.