President Pratibha Patil said the media must search for and find a balance between portrayal of negative and positive happenings in the society.
Inaugurating the 62nd World Newspaper Congress and 16th World Editors’ Forum on Tuesday, she said the function of the media as a social catalyst was so powerful that it imposed an obligation on the media to profile issues of equity and empowerment of all. “There is a tendency in some sections to focus excessively on news which is negative”, she observed.
Of course, there was a lesson to be learnt from negative events, but equally important was to convey positive messages and inspire people, she said.
Stating that globalization had created a situation where events could no longer be viewed as isolated occurrences, Mrs. Patil said issues like terrorism, climate change, rapid communication systems and financial integration were some of the indicators of the global village concept. Referring to the complex network woven across the world by terrorists, she said journalists have a stake in building a better and safer world.
Climate change too had ramifications for individuals and nations and media could play a crucial role in promoting behavioural patterns, consumption preferences and production models which were environment friendly.
Emphasising the important role of editors as opinion makers, the President said, “this role, apart from intellectual capabilities, demands objectivity, fairness and a deep sense of responsibility. A discussion on ethics in media and how quality journalism can be promoted in a manner that it serves public interest is an important self-assessment exercise, particularly as journalists influence the thinking, the standards and ethics of a society”.
The President said that journalism should remain anchored in some basic principles and criteria. Journalism’s first obligation was to truth and its first loyalty to the citizens. The media also had a very crucial role in promoting the cause of good governance, “a role that makes it a higher calling, demanding great responsibility. Is the media doing enough and is it doing justice to this responsibility” the President asked.
Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Mohan Jatua stressed the need for media to maintain credibility and work as a guide towards welfare of society. Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said the society would continue to look to the media to be its conscience-keeper. AP Tourism Minister J. Geeta Reddy urged the media to promote a campaign for legalisation of the institution of Ombudsman in every media organisation.
Gavin O’ Reilly, President WAN-IFRA and T.Venkatram Reddy, President, Indian Newspaper Society spoke. Earlier a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect for more than 30 journalists killed in Philippines last week.