Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Tuesday said public speakers should be more ‘careful with their words' and that certain recent and immensely avoidable utterances' had ‘crossed the limit' and ‘lowered the State's esteem' as a ‘pluralistic, erudite, polite, democratic, and tolerant' society in the eyes of the world.'

Speaking at the convocation of the latest batch of students of the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club's Institute of Journalism, Mr. Antony said he was loath to specify the ‘depressing' instances or name the personalities involved.

He urged the media to show reasonable restraint while reporting such developments and not to add ‘fuel to the fire.' Such events tarnished the sheen of Kerala's inherent culture of political, religious and social tolerance.

He said a strong Lokpal law was coming. The Right to Information Act was set to enter more areas of governance and business practice. Nobody in the country would be above scrutiny. Many more people, who were earlier deemed unquestionable, would soon have to answer for their actions before law. Many ministers, including Chief Ministers, were in prison. More could follow. Even the actions of the media would not be above scrutiny. “Wrongdoers, however mighty they are, cannot escape the law forever,” he said.

Mr. Antony said he was deliberately keeping away from the political ‘winds' that blew across the State and that the ‘air in New Delhi' seemed ‘healthier.' He said the current leadership in the State was adept in handling the prevalent political atmosphere. Mr. Antony said his tryst with the media had begun decades ago as a young student activist. He wrote his organisation's statements, made carbon copies of it and trudged daily to newspaper officers to get them published. He advised aspiring journalists not to allow their political, caste, religious or personal preferences to mar the objectivity of their news reports.

“You should not fall into the trappings of power that comes with being a journalist. You should publish only after verification. All views should be reflected. You should accord a right of reply to the persons against whom you report,” he said.

Assembly Speaker G. Karthikeyan said that truth seemed to be the casualty in the breakneck competition between media houses for scoops, banner headlines and ‘breaking news' flashes. He said the fourth estate should ideally have its actions scrutinised and subjected to introspection and self-criticism. Press Club secretary G. Rajeev, Institute Director S. Radhakrishnan, and faculty member Dilip Kumar also spoke.