Calls for media avoiding sensationalism, checking fake news on National Press Day

NEW DELHI, Nov 16: National Press Day was celebrated on Tuesday with calls for media upholding the cardinal principles of journalism and avoiding sensationalism besides playing a key role in the vibrant democracy of India and also in curbing the menace of fake news.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu greeted media professionals and said the role of media in providing accurate, authentic and unbiased news and information assumes huge importance in the present times of fake news.

“Media must always uphold cardinal principles of journalism and avoid sensationalism. An informed and vigilant citizenry is vital to strengthen democracy and dispassionate dissemination of news is all the more important in this context,” he said on Twitter.

In an audio-visual message, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur called on the media to curb the menace of fake news.

“National Press Day is a day to reflect upon the role of media and the press in raising the issues that matter to the citizens of India. The media is a watchdog and has a key role to play in the vibrant democracy of India.

“On this day, I call upon my friends from media to make all efforts to curb the menace of fake news and fake narratives. The Government on its part has taken measures like establishment of fact check unit at Press Information Bureau which has gained popularity,” he said.

The Press Council of India celebrated the day by organising a seminar on the topic, ‘Who is not afraid of media?’.

Addressing the seminar, Swaminathan Gurumurthy, editor of Tamil language Thuglak magazine, traced the changes media has undergone from the pre-Independence era to the present day.

Talking about social media, he dubbed it as “anarchic” and suggested that a complete ban should be imposed on it as it poses a risk to “everybody’s image, national security and national interest”.

Some of the participants in the seminar, however, differed from Gurumurthy’s suggestion, saying while measures need to be taken to check the circulation of unverified information, a complete ban on social media would not be an appropriate step to check the spread of misinformation.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi chose the occasion to attack the Government, saying when there is punishment for speaking the truth, it is clear that “falsehood is in power”.

National Press Day is observed annually on November 16 to honour the establishment of the PCI.

“When there’s punishment for speaking the truth, it’s clear that falsehood is in power,” Gandhi tweeted, using the hashtag ‘National Press Day’.

Several events were held across the country to mark the occasion.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the role of media in highlighting all positive and negative aspects of any development before the public helps in strengthening the democratic foundations of a nation.

In a statement, he said media works as a bridge among the different organs of a government and promotes a stable democratic setup. (PTI)