Media must maintain credibility, introspect: Modi

Chennai, Nov 6 :  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked the media to make an extra effort to maintain credibility and do introspection to bring forth reforms within.

Participating in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the mass circulated Tamil daily ‘Dina Thanthi’, he also urged the media to shift its focus from politics and devote space for stories on people.

“Just as education now focuses a lot more on learning outcomes, our attitude towards consumption of content has changed. Today, every citizen analyses, discusses and attempts to cross-check and verify the news that comes to him, through multiple sources. Media, therefore, must make an extra effort to maintain credibility. Healthy competition among credible media platforms is also good for the health of our democracy.

“Renewed emphasis on credibility brings us to the subject of introspection. I firmly believe that reform in the media, whenever required, can only come from within, through introspection.

“Indeed, we have seen this process of introspection happen on some occasions, such as the analysis of the reportage of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Perhaps, it should happen more often,” Modi said.

The function was attended by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister E. Palaniswamy, Deputy Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam, Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Pon Radhakrishnan, film personalities including Rajnikanth and industrialists.

Modi recalled a statement by late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on why success stories of people have not been acknowledged, Modi said, adding a lot of media discourse today revolved around politics.

“It is only fair that politics be discussed at length in a democracy. However, India is more than just us politicians. It is the 125 crore Indians, which make India what it is. I would be happy to see media focus a lot more, on their stories and their achievements.

“In this endeavour, every citizen with a mobile phone is your ally. Citizen reporting can be an important tool in the sharing and dissemination of success stories of individuals. It can also be of immense help in directing relief and rescue efforts in times of crisis or natural disasters,” the Prime MInister said.

Modi referred to natural disasters and said they seem to be occurring with increasing frequency and intensity across the world.

“Climate change is a challenge for each one of us. Can media take a lead in the battle against it? Can media devote just a little space, or a fixed time daily, to report, discuss or increase awareness about what we can do to combat climate change?” he asked.

“I take this opportunity to appreciate the media’s response to the Swachh Bharat Mission. As we strive to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, I am touched by the constructive role the media has played, both in generating awareness and mass consciousness towards cleanliness. They have also pointed out the work that remains to be done, before we can claim to have achieved our goal,” he said.

Modi said editorial freedom must be used wisely, in public interest. “Equally so, the freedom to write, and to decide what is to be written, does not include the freedom to be ‘less than accurate’, or ‘factually incorrect’. As Mahatma Gandhi himself told us: ‘The press is called the Fourth Estate. It is definitely a power, but, to misuse that power is criminal’,” he said.

He said even though media may be owned by private individuals, it serves a public purpose. It’s an instrument to produce reform through peace, rather than by force.

“Hence, it has as much social responsibility as the elected government and the judiciary. And its conduct must be equally above board. To recall the words of the great saint Thiruvalluvar ‘There is nothing in this world except ethics, which would bring both reputation and wealth together’.”

Lauding the role of the vernacular newspapers, Modi said in a diverse nation like India the role of newspapers published in regional languages remained as important today as it was during the independence movement.

He said the media had the key role in creating a mass awakening towards “engaged, responsible and aware citizens”.

“The civic sense of ‘entitlement’ must be suitably balanced by a civic sense of ‘responsible engagement’. This should happen, of course, through our education system and the conduct of our political leaders. But the media too, has a role to play here,” he added.