Businessmen and politicians getting into media and distorting facts to further their interest has become a major threat to free and fair press in India, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said Thursday.
Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of Press Council of India on the occasion of National Press Day, Naidu also urged the media to stay away from paid news and making “credibility” a casualty in the pursuit to sensationalise news. He said regulations should not become “strangulation”, but pitched for setting up a media body to look into guidelines and regulations on its working.
Emphasising the need to stick to truth, the Vice-President said, “I understand the eagerness and commitment of the journalist to bring out something hidden. It’s good, but it should be the truth. Truth should never be sacrificed… Unfortunately sensationalisation has been a habit causing damage. The core value of journalism is not being observed by some sections and the news is increasingly becoming coloured.” He added: “Like the government has no business to be in business, businessmen have no business in journalism. I am not saying media houses should do charity… But truth should never be a casualty.”
Naidu recalled that the press was fearless during the freedom struggle and that the spirit continues to be its prominent feature. But he added: “…barring a temporary aberration during the infamous Emergency when the press behaved like the handmaiden of the government. Of course, there were a few exceptions like The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Mainstream,” he said. “Ramnath Goenka and C R Irani played excellent roles when they stood against the government (during Emergency).”
Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani said voices of media shouldn’t be suppressed.
On the occasion, eminent journalists Sam Rajappa and Sarat Mishra were jointly presented ‘Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award’ for their outstanding contribution to journalism. Shalini Nair of The Indian Express received the ‘Rural Journalism & Developmental Reporting’ award. K Sujith of Mangalam Daily and Chitrangada Choudhury, freelancer from Odisha, bagged awards for ‘Investigative Journalism’. Photo journalism awards were given to C K Thanseer of Chandrika Daily, and Vijay Verma of Press Trust of India and J Suresh of Malayala Manorama. Gireesh Kumar, Times of India, received the award for Best Newspapers Art.
Govt Committed to press freedom: PM Modi
New Delhi: Greeting the media on National Press Day, PM Narendra Modi said his government was “fully committed to upholding freedom of press and expression in all forms”. “A free press is the cornerstone of a vibrant democracy. We are fully committed to upholding freedom of press and expression in all forms. May our media space be used more and more to showcase the skills, strengths and creativity of 125 crore Indians,” he tweeted.