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New Delhi : The Vice President (VP) of India M Venkaiah Naidu has expressed his concern over mixing of views with news and said that the cardinal principles of journalism seem to have taken a back seat. Delivering the 3rd Justice J S Verma Memorial Lecture on ‘Freedom & Responsibility of Media in the evolving media space’ here today, he expressed his anguish over the diminishing values in journalism.

The Vice President asked journalists to be extra careful in checking the veracity of information in the present digital era and advised them to guard against ‘fake news’, disinformation and misinformation. The digital media provides news by the minute in a “fastest finger first” mode with alerts and flashes on smart phones. In this milieu, with media houses scrambling to flash news alerts to an ever-widening base of users, the freedom and responsibility of the media acquire far greater significance than ever before, he said.

The Vice President condemned the obsession of news organizations in lending primacy to their points of view. Truth, objectivity, accuracy, credibility, fairness, impartiality, humanity and accountability seem to have taken a back seat with news purveyors themselves assuming the role of gate-keepers. The disturbing trend of mixing news with views has become the new norm, he said, according to a PIB release.

The Vice President said that some sections of the media have become propagandists of a particular ideology and reduced broadsheet journalism to pamphleteering. In such a scenario, freedom and responsibility cannot be considered as inseparable. They are as inter-dependent on each other as a TV channel is on an OB Van or a newspaper on newsprint, he added.

The Vice President said that freedom of media is not absolute and is circumscribed by certain reasonable restrictions relating to security of State, public order, decency or morality, defamation and contempt of court and sovereignty and integrity of India. Stating that every Indian citizen has a responsibility in protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the Vice President sought much more responsibility from the media particularly the Television medium.

The Vice President said that TV Channels must exercise editorial discretion while broadcasting a programme and see that it does not harm viewers. TV stations should not promote programmes or serials which seek to justify superstitions or promote irrational beliefs. I feel that there should be also be some check on sponsored health programmes, which make exaggerated claims on benefits of health products, he added. The Vice President said that media must enlighten people on their rights as only an informed citizenry can provide the best checks and balances in a democracy.

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