New Delhi, Jan 19 (ANI): Stating that the prevalence of the practice of 'paid news' exposed recently has come as a shock to all right-thinking people, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Thursday urged the Indian media to come together to exercise a degree of self-regulation to combat perversions like paid news.
Dr. Singh, who released the book titled "The Tribune 130 years: a witness to history" here today, in his speech said: "It has been our government's avowed belief that the Fourth Estate is an essential pillar of our democracy. We believe in complete independence of the media from external control. It is true that sometimes irresponsible journalism can have serious consequences for social harmony and public order, which the public authorities have an obligation to maintain, but censorship is no answer."
"It is for the members of the Fourth Estate themselves to collectively ensure that objectivity is promoted and sensationalism is curbed. It is for them to introspect how best they can serve our country and society and advance their well-being, and how best they can earn the respect of our common citizens. Those in the media should come together to exercise a degree of self-regulation to combat perversions like paid news," he added.
The Prime Minister said it is an important responsibility of the media to expose corruption and other ills in the polity and society.
"It should also advise the government and even reprimand it when it goes wrong. But let me also suggest that it should not be all gloom and doom all the time. The world is looking up to us today and it would be but fair that positive news is also given its due share. The Indian development story is an exciting one and should be told through the print and visual mediums," said Dr. Singh.
Stating that good journalism is very serious business and a very difficult work, Dr. Singh said: " The responsibilities that journalists carry are onerous - to inform and educate the public, to keep a watch on the government's work and to highlight issues of critical importance. It is hard to be a good journalist - ever willing to learn, ever alert to new developments, objective, fair, sensitive, balanced and constructive in approach."
The Prime Minister further said the Indian media of today has its inevitable highs and lows.
"Every day we see examples of journalism of a very high calibre. There are instances of fair and accurate reporting, free of biases. There are stories with painstaking research to back them up. Journalists often expose wrongdoings even at considerable risk to themselves. There are efforts to report constructively on subjects that are of vital national importance," said Dr. Singh.
"But we also see sensationalism, driven by a desire to sell a story at any cost. There are stories without a clear understanding of the underlined issues. There is reporting, which is prejudiced. There is trivialisation of important matters. There is corruption," he added.
Expressing his delight to be in the midst of The Tribune family, Dr. Singh said : "Today marks the release of a comprehensive history of The Tribune, on completion of 130 years of its publication. It is truly pleasant to go down the memory lane with the newspaper of my choice which has been my staple reading every morning for decades."
"'A Witness to History' is an apt title of a book that records the 130 year old history of The Tribune. Indeed, this history stands closely intertwined with the story of our country's journey during this turbulent period," he added.
Recalling Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, the founder of the Tribune, Dr. Singh said : "Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, the newspaper's founder was a man of rare foresight and a great reformist. He was inspired by high ideals and wanted The Tribune to be free of any sectarian or commercial bias, and unaligned to any dogma or political party. I am happy that the newspaper has by and large lived up to its founder's vision. While being an effective watchdog of the interests of the people it has practiced responsible and credible journalism."
"The Tribune has also been a wonderful example of good what trusteeship is about. Its Trustees have been men and women who have distinguished themselves in their respective professions and who embody the spirit of The Tribune very aptly," he added.
The Prime Minister further said the country has come a long way from the early years of The Tribune.
" Today, while India sits at the high table of nations and is looked upon and heard with respect, a vibrant media is crucial to our needs-a media that informs and educates, a media that is inspired by public interest and not guided by sectarian or commercial considerations," said Dr. Singh. (ANI)
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