Don't focus only on negatives, president to global media

Hyderabad : Indian President Pratibha Patil Tuesday advised global media to find a balance between the portrayal of the negative and positive happenings in society.

Addressing the joint session of 62nd World Newspaper Congress and the World Editors’ Forum – the first time it is being held in South Asia – here, she said the function of the media as a social catalyst is so powerful, that it imposes an obligation on the media to profile issues of equity and empowerment of all.

“There is a tendency in some sections of media to focus excessively on news which is negative. There is, of course, a lesson to be learnt from events that are negative, but equally important is to convey positive messages and to inspire people,” she said.

Patil said journalism should remain anchored in some basic principles and criteria. “Journalism’s first obligation is to truth, its first loyalty is to the citizens, its essence is the discipline of verification of a news story before being published or broadcast and its practitioners must exercise their personal conscience,” she said.

She said the role of media in India would continue to be important as “we strive for growth that is inclusive and strengthen the values of democracy, harmony and tolerance in our political and social life”.

Over 900 delegates from 87 countries are attending the World Newspaper Congress. Leading publishers, CEOs, managing directors, chief editors and senior newspaper executives are attending the event, which will discuss a host of issues including curbs on media coverage of sports events, challenges posed by internet search engines like Google, the future of journalism and entrepreneurial journalism.

Patil said changes in media in the future would continue to be determined by new technologies, and hence a constant challenge for media would be how to interface with technology.

She said journalists have a stake in building a better and safer world. “Terrorists have woven a complex network across the world, posing a threat to innocent lives and to peace and stability of societies. Nabbing consignments of weapons and drugs in one part of the globe can reveal a conspiracy of a much larger dimensions. For the media, it implies that even though it is covering certain local events, it must necessarily look at other linkages”.

On climate change, she said media can play a crucial role in “promoting behavioural patterns, consumption preferences and production models which are environment friendly”.

“Media, apart from creating awareness, can play a pro-active role as well. The paper and printing industries, for example, should look at using eco-friendly and energy efficient technologies so as to reduce its carbon footprint which can pave the way for a sustainable future for the print media,” she said.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Mohan Jatua, Andhra Pradesh’s Minister for Information and Public Relations J. Geeta Reddy, and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) president Gavin O’Reilly also spoke at the inaugural function.

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