Emphasizing the need for fair, objective, and balanced reporting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called upon the media to avoid sensational reporting.

Inaugurating the golden jubilee celebrations of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) here on Thursday, the Prime Minister said: “The desire to be sensational should be avoided. Restraint should be exercised so that nothing that divides our society and country is written, broadcast or telecast.”

The Prime Minister said the media had a very important role to play in promoting communal harmony and inter-community dialogue.

“The unfortunate incidents of the past few months have brought out worrying fault lines in our society. The tragic developments in Assam and their reverberations in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and other places have shown that we cannot afford to take social peace and harmony for granted. We need to be constantly vigilant and work continuously towards promoting greater communal harmony and inter-group and inter-community dialogue,” he said.

The Prime Minister said a conscious effort should be made to build bridges between communities and regions.

He said an independent and responsible media was a prerequisite for sustaining a society with numerous religions, ethnicities, languages, and viewpoints. The media was not just a “reliable barometer of public opinion. It is also a conscience-keeper of the nation.”

Free press

He pointed out that long before development journalism evolved elsewhere in the country, Malayalam newspapers were replete with news of developmental activities. He noted that the Malayalam newspapers had contributed immensely for the development of an independent and free press in the country.

Presiding over the function, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the media played a greater role for the development of the country.

Speaking at the function, Union Defence Minster A.K. Antony said it was doubtful whether present journalists had the same professional freedom that had been enjoyed by their predecessors. Their freedom was restricted due to the contractual mode of appointments introduced by various newspaper managements, he said.

Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas said the media which had enormous power should exercise it with greater responsibility. Sensational reporting would be counter-productive and would do more harm than good.

Welcoming the gathering, K.C. Rajagopal, president, KUWJ, urged the Prime Minister to take steps to amend the Working Journalists Act to bring the electronic media under its purview.

Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran, Union Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal, and Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed were present.

Manoharan Morayi, general secretary, KUWJ, proposed a vote of thanks.

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