President Pranab Mukherjee has said that India's "vast, varied and vibrant media is a national asset" and called on the industry to institute "self-correcting mechanisms" to remove "aberrations" in its working.
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, Mukherjee said while inaugurating the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) here Thursday.
He said the Platinum Jubilee is an important landmark not only for members of INS but for all Indians as it represented the most influential of India's newspapers and periodicals. He said the INS founders have played a vital role in nurturing a free press which is a critical component of our democracy.
He said 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.
The president said, in these changing times, it is essential for newspapers to be alive to the challenges of technology and to harness responsibly the opportunities that present themselves.
He said it is distressing to note that some publications have resorted to "paid news" and other such marketing strategies to drive their revenues.
"There is need for self-correcting mechanisms to check such aberrations. The temptation to `dumb down' news should also be resisted," he said.
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, he said.
"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," the president concluded.