National

Prevent erosion of journalistic values and standards: Vice President

VP bemoans decline in journalistic standards over the years

News must not be colored or slanted with views: VP

VP advises media to engage more proactively in advocacy & protection of rights of the downtrodden

VP urges media to shun sensationalism and highlight good performance of MPs

VP presents ‘Keraleeyam – V.K. Madhavan Kutty Puraskaram-2020’ to four journalists

DELHI, DECEMBER 17: The Vice President, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today urged all the stakeholders involved in journalism to introspect and take steps to prevent erosion of journalistic values and standards.

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He highlighted the importance of providing undiluted and authentic news at a time when fake news, half-truths and misinformation were becoming increasingly commonplace on social media platforms. The Vice President made the remarks while presenting ‘ Keraleeyam-V K Madhavan Kutty Puraskaram-2020’ in different categories to four journalists at Upa-Rashtrapati Nivas in Delhi.

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Emphasizing on the importance of objectivity, he said that news must not be coloured or slanted with views. Presenting news through the prism of biased opinion casts a shadow on the dispassionate and neutral nature of journalism, he said.

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“Unfortunately, there has been a decline in journalistic standards over the years and today it is difficult to get a truly objective picture by reading a single newspaper or viewing a single news channel”, he bemoaned.

If robbed of authenticity, reliability and credibility, the media will be doing a disservice to democracy and to the cause of enlightening and empowering the public, the Vice President said.

Pointing out that there is a greater onus on journalists to be unbiased in a democracy, he said the media plays a critical role in maintaining the social fabric and political system of a country. “It should engage more proactively in advocacy, protection of rights of the downtrodden and powerless, and in uncovering illegal and corrupt practices. Ultimately, it should function without fear or favour”, he added.

Observing that journalism becomes the third eye of the citizens, the Vice President said it should constructively criticize the actions of the government with evidence, facts, and insightful research. “Only when investigative journalism is free of bias and partisanship can the media live up to its reputation as Fourth Estate”, he opined. 

Shri Naidu said that in the past, news was considered sacrosanct and treated as news not tempered by opinion.

He said, sadly, commercial interests seem to be the main consideration for quite a few media houses today. “I am not saying that media organizations employing hundreds of employees should not be run on commercial lines. However, commercial interests alone should not become the overriding factor in the selection and presentation of news and articles”, he stressed.

Observing that autonomy and neutrality are equally important, the Vice President said that a media house would eventually end up losing its loyal readers or viewers if it was not autonomous. “Hence, freedom is one of the essential prerequisites for practicing serious and meaningful journalism”, he added.

Expressing his concern over decline of values in different walks of life, Shri Naidu said there was a greater responsibility on politicians and journalists to maintain standards and set examples to others.

Urging the media to shun sensationalism by only highlighting disturbance and disruption in Parliament, the Vice President, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said the media should give prominence to good performance of MPs, who attend the House regularly and participate in debates by providing constructive suggestions to the government.

Paying tributes to late Shri Madhavan Kutty, he said that he was a well-known and widely respected journalist whom he had known personally for several years. He said that was a legend in his lifetime and won several awards as a journalist and as a literary figure of eminence.

Congratulating the recipients of the award- Shri Prasanth Reghuvamsam Resident Editor Asianet News Television Channel at Delhi, Shri Kamal Varadoor, Chief Editor of Chandrika Malayalam News daily, Shri Anu Abraham, Senior Sub Editor Mathrubhumi Malayalam News daily and Shri Alex Raj Senior Reporter of 24 News, a Malayalam language Television Channel, the Vice President advised them to use the might of the “pen” to protect the interests of the people and for the development of the nation.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V . Muraleedharan, Shri P V Abdul Wahab, Rajya Sabha member and Chairman, Keraleeyam, Shri G. Rajamohan, Working Chairman, Keraleeyam  senior journalists and others were present.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“I am pleased to attend the 15th V.K. Madhavan Kutty Memorial Media Award function here today. Shri Madhavan Kutty was a well-known and widely respected journalist whom I had known personally for several years. He was the Editor of Mathrubhumi Malayalam language daily and was one of the founders of the first Malayalam language private television news channel, Asianet in Kerala.

A legend in his lifetime, Shri Madhavan Kutty won several awards as a journalist and as a literary figure of eminence. He was conferred the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in 1991 and & Swadeshabhimani Puraskaram in 2002 by the Kerala government for his exemplary contribution as a journalist. He has also authored several books in Malayalam, short stories and memoirs.

I would like to congratulate Global Kerala Initiative – Keraleeyam, a philanthropic organization devoted to the rehabilitation of AIDS-affected and destitute children, for instituting the Media award in the name of its founder President V.K. Madhavan Kutty.

As we all are aware, at the basic level, journalism is collation and distribution of news in print and non-print forms. The essence of journalism lies in providing objective and truthful coverage of events to the people. In the past, news was considered sacrosanct and treated as news not tempered by opinion. Of course, editorials and articles in the opinion pages used to reflect the stance taken by newspapers on important issues. This is reflected in the work of legendary editors of yesteryears like Frank Moraes and Nikhil Chakravarty, among several others.

I have always held the view that news must not be coloured or slanted with views. Unfortunately, there has been a decline in journalistic standards over the years and today it is difficult to get a truly objective picture by reading a single newspaper or viewing a single news channel.

Presenting news through the prism of biased opinion casts a shadow on the dispassionate and neutral nature of journalism. Media organisations would be doing a disservice to journalism by presenting tinted news to drive a particular agenda. 

Sadly, journalism is driven by commercial interests alone for many today. I am not saying that media organizations employing hundreds of employees should not be run on commercial lines. However, commercial interests alone should not become the overriding factor in the selection and presentation of news and articles.

The principle of ‘objectivity ‘is one of the foremost lessons in journalism. The term implies a ‘rational’ perspective on any given situation. It includes components like truth, facts, and impartiality.

Autonomy and neutrality are equally important. If a media house is not autonomous, it would eventually end up losing its loyal readers or viewers. Hence, freedom is one of the essential prerequisites for practicing serious and meaningful journalism.

It needs to be emphasised that in a democracy, greater onus is placed on journalists to be unbiased. Journalism is as diverse as the circumstances that exist in a complex world of multiple challenges.

Therefore, the media plays a critical role in maintaining the social fabric and political system of a country. It should engage more proactively in advocacy, protection of rights of the downtrodden and powerless, and in uncovering illegal and corrupt practices. Ultimately, it should function without fear or favour.

Journalism becomes the third eye of the citizens; it is what enables them to exercise some amount of effective control over the actions of the government; this function is performed by informing the citizens. It is also performed by engaging in effective and rational discussions on decisions of the government. It should also constructively criticize the actions of the government with evidence, facts, and insightful research. This is how it becomes the fourth and invisible pillar of democracy when it stays true to its principles. Only when investigative journalism is free of bias and partisanship can the media live up to its reputation as Fourth Estate. 

In recent years, the quality of India’s public discourse has been lowered and this is reflected in the decline in the quality of journalism. It is time for all stakeholders involved in journalism to introspect seriously on the present state of affairs and take steps to prevent erosion of journalistic values and standards. This is all the more essential at a time when fake news, half-truths and misinformation are becoming increasingly commonplace especially on social media platforms.

If robbed of authenticity, reliability and credibility, media will be doing disservice to democracy and to the cause of enlightening and empowering the public.

With these words I congratulate the winners of the VK Madhavan Kutty Media award—Shri Prasanth Reghuvamsam Resident Editor Asianet News Television Channel at Delhi for his exemplary contribution as an Electronic Media Journalist.

Shri Kamal Varadoor, Chief Editor of Chandrika Malayalam News daily is an acclaimed sports journalist. He was also the President of Kerala Union of Working Journalists.

Shri Anu Abraham, Senior Sub Editor Mathrubhumi Malayalam News daily is the winner of V.K. Madhavan Kutty Award for Print Media this year. He won the Press Council of India Award in 2019, Kerala Government’s State Media Award in 2020 and the Kerala Media Academy Award in 2021 for his journalistic skills in Print Media.

Shri Alex Raj popularly known as Alex Ram Mohamed is an upcoming young journalist and Senior Reporter of 24 News, a Malayalam language Television Channel, is the winner of V.K Madhavan Kutty Award for Electronic Media this year.

I understand that the award jury led by Mr. T.P. Sreenivasan—former Ambassador of India to the United States of America was unanimous in selecting the winners for their erudite style of reporting and presentation of the news items with social relevance and humanitarian angle. I hope the journalists will use the might of the “pen” to protect the interests of the people and for the development of the nation.

I once again congratulate all the winners of V.K.Madhavan Kutty Media Award and Global Kerala Initiative Keraleeyam for instituting this award.

Thank You.

JAI HIND!”+

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