NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee today said there was need for self-correcting mechanisms to check ‘aberrations’ like the malaise of paid news in the media.
Inaugurating the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the President said, “It is distressing to note that some publications have resorted to “Paid News” and other such marketing strategies to drive their revenues.”
The temptation to “dumb down” news should also be resisted, he said, stressing that the nation faces critical challenges that go well beyond the pressure of ‘Breaking News’ and immediate headlines. While newspapers must continue to be effective raconteurs, they must also be visionary nation builders.
But he said India’s ‘vast, varied and vibrant media is a national asset and the media as a whole not only keeps people informed but also performs a very crucial function of presenting ideas and alternatives in the domain of policy formulation and implementation.’
The President said these are changing times and it is not possible for newspapers to be spared from the consequences of the evolution of ideas and the embrace of technology. It is essential for newspapers to be alive to the challenges of technology and to harness responsibly the opportunities that present themselves.
He said the influence, credibility and quality of the Indian media is well recognised. Newspapers must be keepers of the conscience of the country. They have to be active participants in the continuing endeavour to nurture a democratic republic committed to achieving justice and fundamental freedoms for all citizens. Journalists must bring to public notice the array of ills and deprivations that continue to beset large numbers of our people – be it malnourishment, continuance of discriminatory practices against sections of society, particularly dalits, or the burdens and tragic consequences of indebtedness. They must shape and influence public opinion even as they provide objective and balanced coverage of news.
He said the Indian Newspaper Society has over the years met the challenges of time even as it has represented the most influential of India’s newspapers and periodicals. “75 years ago, the world was a very different place. Newspapers of the time not only survived the shortages that war brought in its wake, but also engaged themselves in the difficult task of informing people of the momentous events of a contentious period in our history. It took resolve, vision and a sense of destiny on the part of the founding fathers to have formed a society that could take up issues of common interest for its members. INS members have played a vital role in nurturing a free Press which is a critical component of our democracy,” he added.
The President stressed that over the years, INS members have informed society and promoted debate on the important questions that confront the nation. “Be it the ravages wrought by war or those inflicted by the man-made Bengal famine, the trials and tribulations of a nation torn by partition or the building of modern day India, newspapers have played a crucial role in educating Indians and giving expression to the diversity of views in our society, upholding thereby the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression,” he concluded.