Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said censorship on media is not an option and there should be complete independence of media from external control, he also called upon the media fraternity to highlight India’s growth story.
“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,” he said at a function to launch a book ‘The Tribune 130 years: A Witness to History’ in New Delhi on Thursday.
Singh said it was for the members of the Fourth Estate themselves to collectively ensure that objectivity is promoted and sensationalism is curbed.
“Those in the media should come together to exercise a degree of self-regulation and to combat perversions like paid news,” he said.
Noting that there were examples of journalism of very high calibre, Singh said, “But we also see sensationalism, driven by a desire to sell a story at any cost.”
“There are stories without clear understanding of issues. There is reporting which is prejudiced. There is trivialisation of important matters. There is corruption,” he said.
“The prevalance of the practice of paid news exposed recently has come as a shock to all right-thinking people,” he said.
The media should reprimand the government when it goes wrong, the Prime Minister said and suggested that that it should not be gloom and doom all the time.
“The world is looking up to us today and it would be but fair that postitive news is also given its due share,” Singh said at a function attended by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and a host of Union Cabinet Ministers.
The Prime Minister said the Indian development story was an exciting one and should be told through the print and visual media.
Observing that good journalism was a very serious business and very difficult work, Singh said the responsibilities that journalists carry are onerous — to inform 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,” he said.
Singh said that collectively the country’s journalists have acquitted themselves reasonably well.
“I am convinced that the Indian media is on the balance responsible and attuned to serving national interest. I am also sure that the coming years will see even higher standards from our media,” he said.