“There is need for self-correcting mechanisms to check such aberrations. The temptation to ‘dumb down’ news should also be resisted....While you must continue to be effective raconteurs, you must also be visionary nation builders,” the President said.
He said it was the responsibility and “bounden duty” of media to ensure that ideas are debated dispassionately and thoughts articulated without fear or favour so that opinion is always well informed. Mukherjee said the INS can be proud that it helped create and nurture institutions like the Press Trust of India (PTI) and the Audit Bureau of Circulation. “INS members have played a vital role in nurturing a free Press which is a critical component of our democracy,” he said. The President said media, the fourth estate, has an important role to play in cleansing public life but it should refrain from sensationalism as it could never substitute truthful reporting. While cleansing, the media should maintain highest standards of ethics and should always keep in mind that “ends and means are both important”. “Sensationalism should never become a substitute for objective assessment and truthful reporting. Gossip and speculation should not replace hard facts. Every effort should be made to ensure that political or commercial interests are not passed off as legitimate and independent opinion,” he said. Being the mediator between the public and public servants, the press is a “watchdog of public interest” which gives voice to the downtrodden and dispossessed. “But, gloom and dark alone should not dominate news coverage. A conscious effort must be made to highlight the positive and inspire change for the better. The power of the media should be used to engage in a nation-wide endeavour to reset our moral compass,” he said. (PTI)