Expressing concern over “diminishing values” in journalism and the “disturbing trend of mixing views with news,” Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday advised journalists to exercise restraint and guard against “disinformation and misinformation” while presenting news.
“In the present digital era when millions are using social media platforms, journalists will have to be extra careful in checking the veracity of information and guard against ‘fake news’, disinformation and misinformation,” the president said while delivering the Justice JS Verma Memorial Lecture on ‘Freedom and Responsibility of Media in the evolving media space’, in the national capital on Monday evening.
Naidu said that in the race to flash news alerts and updates to users, the cardinal principles of journalism - truth, objectivity, accuracy, credibility, fairness, impartiality, humanity and accountability - have taken a back seat with “news purveyors themselves assuming the role of gate-keepers. Most news channels are obsessed with lending primacy to their points of view”.
And, the “disturbing trend of mixing news with views has become the new normal,” he said.
“The digital media provides news by the minute in a ‘fastest finger first’ mode, with alerts and flashes on smart phones. In this milieu, with media houses scrambling to flash news alerts to an ever-widening base of users, the freedom and responsibility of the media acquire far greater significance than ever before,” Naidu said.
He said that “some sections of the media have become propagandists of a particular ideology and reduced broadsheet journalism to pamphleteering”.’
Naidu also urged TV channels to exercise editorial discretion and restraint while broadcasting a programme so that it does not harm viewers. He said that media “must act as an instrument of reformation in the transformation of the nation into a leading economic power”.
“The freedom of media is not absolute and is circumscribed by certain reasonable restrictions relating to security of State, public order, decency or morality, defamation and contempt of court and sovereignty and integrity of India,” Naidu said.
The vice-president also said that every Indian citizen has a responsibility in protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
Strongly underlining the media’s role to act as a bridge between the government and people, Naidu said the media should ensure that justice is not denied to the people, particularly the vulnerable and marginalised sections of society.
Urging the media to give equal focus to all regions of the country and all segments of society, Naidu said the media must focus on “development and welfare” The vice-president also stressed upon the “means of empowerment for development through informed actions”.
The event, organised by NBA, was graced by other luminaries, media personalities and students of journalism.