Urging media to act responsibly to maintain social harmony, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Friday said that irresponsible journalism can have serious consequences.
In his message on the occasion of National Press Day, Dr. Singh said: "A free and fair media has been an essential pillar of our democracy. Since our struggle for freedom, media has been guiding social change, informing readers of their rights and contributing to the nation-building process by spreading awareness."
"As a country, we believe in complete independence of the media from external control. It is true that sometimes irresponsible journalism can have serious consequences for social harmony and public order, which the public authorities have an obligation to maintain, but censorship is no answer," he added.
Asserting that it is for the members of the Fourth Estate themselves to collectively ensure that objectivity is promoted and sensationalism is curbed, Dr. Singh said: "It is for them to introspect how best they can serve our country and society and advance their well being."
National Press Day -November 16- is symbolic of a free and responsible press in India. This was the day on which the Press Council of India started functioning as a moral watchdog to ensure that not only did the press maintain the high standards expected from this powerful medium but also that it was not fettered by the influence or threats of any extraneous factors.
Though there are several Press or Media Councils world over, the Press Council of India is a unique entity in as-much-as this is the only body to exercise an authority even over the instruments of the state in its duty to safeguard the independence of the press.
Recommending the establishment of Press Council in 1956 the first Press Commission had concluded that the best way of maintaining professional ethics in journalism would be to bring into existence a body with statutory authority, of people principally connected with industry whose duty it would be to arbitrate.
To this end the Press Council of India was established and the body that was evolved since November 16, 1966 has not belied the objective.
The National Press Day on November 16 every year is commemorated in befitting manner by the council. Since the year 1997 following seminars have been organized by the press council on the occasion. (ANI)