Use editorial freedom wisely: Modi

Calling upon media houses to take extra effort to maintain credibility and use the editorial freedom wisely for public interest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that any reform in the media can only come from within through introspection. He also urged the media to look beyond politicians and on to the success stories of 1.25 billion Indians across the country.

“Editorial freedom must be used wisely in public interest. Equally, the freedom to write and to decide what is to be written does not include the right to be less than accurate or factually incorrect,” Mr. Modi said during his speech at platinum jubilee celebrations of Tamil daily Dina Thanthi at the University of Madras’ Centenary Auditorium here.

As Editors of media houses, who select and decide what was important and what was to be given more space, Mr. Modi said it cast upon them a great responsibility. He went on to quote Mahatma Gandhi to say: “The press is called the Fourth Estate. It is definitely a power but a misuse of power is criminal.”

As for reforms in the media, he said: “I strongly believe the reform in the media, whenever required, can only come from within through introspection.” Referring to the reportage of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack by the media and the reforms that followed, he said, “It (reforms) should happen more often.”

He pointed out that the media was focussing more on politicians and said, “India is more than just our politicians. It is the 1.25 billion Indians who make India what it is today. I would be happy to see media focus a lot more on their stories and their achievements.”

Citizens with mobile phones were journalists’ allies for sharing and dissemination of success stories of individuals. “It can also be of immense help in directing relief in times of crisis and natural disaster,” he said.

Appreciating the media’s response to his government’s Swachh Bharat mission, Mr. Modi also suggested that the print media could devote a column in the newspapers for one year to educate readers with simple sentences and their meanings in major Indian languages with translation and transliteration.

He foresaw an India by 2022 that was free from disease, corruption, casteism, communalism, poverty and illiteracy among other challenges. The next five years must be about Sankalp se Siddhi (From commitment to accomplishment), he said.

Lauding the contributions of Dina Thanthi to the society, Mr. Modi said while the traditional telegram service has now become obsolete, the Dina Thanthi (Daily Telegram) continued to grow and reach the people.

Mr. Modi presented the S.P. Adithanar Literary Award to IAS officer V. Irai Anbu, S.P. Adithanar Senior Tamil Scholar Award to ‘Erode’ Thamizhanban and S.P. Adithanar Life-time Achievement Award to industrialist V.G. Santhosam.

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon. Radhakrishnan and Director of Daily Thanthi S. Balasubramanian Adityan were among those present on the dais.

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