Striking a word of caution against clickbait headlines and fake news, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday said media must not allow the space for responsible, fair and balanced journalism be occupied by others.
Addressing a function to celebrate the National Press Day, Thakur urged the media to reflect and self-introspect on how to immunise itself from the “virus of infodemic” that continued to inflict malicious disinformation on societies across geographies.
“It is extremely regrettable that a prominent digital media platform was recently found to be indulging in malicious disinformation to target our Government,” the minister said addressing the function organised by the Press Council of India.
“The regret is all the more that this was done with no regard for what it does to India’s image and the nation’s prestige,” Thakur said, noting that democracies across the world were seized of the problem of weaponised disinformation.
Thakur noted that much of the media governance structure was self-regulatory.
“But self-regulation does not mean licence to err and err intentionally. That would erode media credibility. Bias and prejudice must be abjured,” Thakur said.
Voicing concern over the “twin concerns of paid news and fake news, Thakur wondered whether the fast-disappearing blue line demarcating editorial content from advertorial content augured well for the media.” Thakur said it was for the media to answer this question.
He said clickbait journalism, made fashionable by social media, contributed nothing to media credibility and nation-building.
“Media must not allow the space for responsible, fair and balanced journalism to be occupied by others,” Thakur said.
The National Press Day function was presided over by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, Chairperson of the Press Council of India.
Senior journalist Swapan Dasgupta, who delivered the keynote address, voiced concern over declining investments by news organisations in news gathering operations.
Every year, November 16 is celebrated as the National Press Day in the country as on this day in 1966, the Press Council of India (PCI) was established. The PCI is responsible for examining the quality of reportage in the country.