Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today urged the media to not colour 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.
Speaking at an event organized by Press Council of India on the occasion of National Press Day, in New Delhi today, 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 the present times after the advent of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon and the huge impact the social media is creating. “Sensationalism, biased coverage and paid news has become the modern-day afflictions of the media, he said adding that under no circumstances can be slanted and opinionated reporting be termed as ‘interpretative reporting’.
Vice President Naidu expressed concern over the fact that business groups and even political parties setting up newspapers and TV channels to further their interests.“With this the core values of journalism are getting eroded”, he said.
Maintaining that freedom and responsibility cannot be considered as inseparable, he opined that media must not only act as the watchdog to protect democracy but must also act as the true champion of the underdog. It has to be in the vanguard of fighting the ills that are plaguing the society.
The Vice President said that the media landscape has transformed dramatically over the years and so have the values of journalism. In the past, journalism was treated as a mission for the nation’s service. Talking about the present state of affairs, he asked journalists’ bodies like PCI to do serious introspection.
Vice President Naidu said that 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 smartphone 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 can not bring the 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.
Talking about the abrogation of Article370, he said that it was only a temporary provision which was removed by the Parliament with a huge majority. He appealed to the Indian journalistic community to convey the right facts to the world about Kashmir.
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 Gulab Kothari was awarded the prestigious ‘Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award’ for his outstanding journalism.
Vice President 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 Prakash Javadekar, PCI Chairperson, Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, Convener, Jury Committee and Member, PCI, Jai Shankar Gupta and Secretary, PCI, Smt. Anupama Bhatnagar w among the dignitaries who graced the occasion. Representatives from various foreign countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar also attended the event.