“Digital has emerged as alternative platform for information dissemination”: Arun Jaitley

MUMBAI: The Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, Arun Jaitley has said that in the last two decades, conventional contours of the issues pertaining to freedom and responsibility of media had changed due to changes in the nature and content of media and the definition of news. 


According to the Minister, news in the electronic media today is being defined by what the camera could capture. “In the current paradigm, technology has become a driving force for these changes. The impact of technology was profound as information dissemination was taking place 24x7 across different technological tools and media platforms including the digital space,” he added.


Jaitley stated this while delivering the first Justice J. S. Verma Memorial lecture on the ‘Freedom & Responsibility of Media’ organised by the News Broadcasters Association.  


Elaborating further, Jaitley said that technological developments had defied the contours of censorship and the challenges for the media lay within, in the context of ownership patterns, financial sustainability and financial models, which led to aberrations such as paid news.


According to Jaitley, the challenges before the media were to ensure quality, credibility along with the responsibility to play the role of an educator in handling sensitive issues. The challenge also lay in maintaining high ethical standards on the issue of conflict of interest where media needed to be very careful.


Regarding digital media, the Minister said the financial models would evolve as the medium matured. The digital platform also needed to evolve its own standards of responsibility as it had emerged as an alternative platform for information dissemination.  


The Minister further mentioned that media responsibility was critical in addressing matters related to security, social tension, privacy of the individual and the issues that involved a subjudice connotation. “Media needs to avoid the conduct of parallel trials in reporting matters that were subjudice,” he said, adding that constructive deliberations on all issues relating to media freedom and responsibility needed to be initiated amongst all stakeholders. 


During the course of his address, Jaitley recalled the outstanding contribution of Justice J. S. Verma in the domains of Human Rights, gender equality, probity and media freedom as the conscience keeper of the society. 


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