On day ToI journalist refused to accept award from him, Modi says credibility biggest challenge facing media


Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said credibility is the biggest challenge for media in the age of technology and it is important for media establishments to maintain it.

Speaking after giving away the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards organised by The Indian Express, he said earlier people with certain training and qualification came to journalism but today anybody with a mobile phone can click a picture and upload it.

His comments came even as a senior Times of India journalist Akshaya Mukul chose to boycott the awards because of his abhorrence to being in the same frame as Modi.

“People now have a lot of news. In this context, maintaining credibility is a big issue and the biggest demand of time,” he said.

In a lighter vein, the Prime Minister said while media had full freedom to comment on everything and everybody, it does not like others’ views on it.

Tongue-in-cheek, he said he must be the only privileged politician after Independence to have got so much of media attention and he is eternally grateful to it.

Setting two important matters before the media, Modi said he does not have any issue with the government being criticised by the media but there should be no mistake in reporting. National unity, he added, should be the priority as India is a diverse country.

“Any compromise is a news for you and you move on to the next news but such a compromise leaves behind deep wounds. We (politicians) may be making more mistakes than you but please strengthen forces of national unity.

He also pitched for a world-class Indian media organisation to propagate the country’s view strongly across the globe and cited current debate on environment and global warming. He said such an organisation should not belong to the government.

He said all big countries are working for having a strong media voice at the global level and for India it is an opportunity as well as a challenge.

Awards were given to journalists in print, TV and digital media in various disciplines.

Viveck Goenka, Chairman and Managing Director of the Express Group in his welcome address said that apart from these awards, the group would also be giving a new award to district-level officers for making a positive impact on governance.

On the occasion, Modi hailed Ramnath Goenka’s role during the Emergency which, he added, is an important lesson for people to understand the dangers democracy faces.

He also said reflection on the Emergency period should take place frequently across generations so that “no politician is born who feels like committing such a sin.”

“In India the period of Emergency is important. When we talk of Emergency, some people feel bad. It is viewed politically. That period of politics (politicising the issue) is over.”

The Prime Minister said the era of Emergency is also useful to keep his ‘biradari’ (the political class) vigilant.

During the Emergency, very few people emerged who challenged the system. “(Late) Ramnath Goenka and the Indian Express chose to do that, fearlessly,” he said.

In his vote of thanks, The Indian Express Chief Editor Raj Kamal Jha agreed with the Prime Minister that credibility is an issue that the media should introspect upon.

The government cannot be blamed for it, he said.