Paid news has become a “menace”, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said today, and asked newspapers to use their “power” wisely for the benefit of society. “Paid news has become a menace…it has become a weakness in the society,” he told a gathering at an event to mark the launch of the Delhi edition of leading Marathi daily ‘Lokmat’. He said newspapers had the power to influence society which it should use wisely for the larger benefit of people.
Making a pitch for the use of mother tongue, the vice president said he rose to his current position despite studying in a school in his native Andhra Pradesh where the medium of instruction was Telugu. Naidu said parents pushing children to speak in English reflected their “weakness”. The vice president, however, clarified he was not against any language.
Stressing that newspaper should be the reflection of the society, Naidu asked the media to exercise the freedom of expression with responsibility. “When the freedom is misused and expression becomes distorted and dangerous and you overstep the law will have to step in,” he added. Cautioning the media not to let itself become a tool in the hands of rumourmongers, Naidu said, “Information with confirmation is great ammunition. Without confirmation, it remains gossip and can lead to dangerous rumormongering.”
Speaking on the occasion, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said the media has a very important role to play in any democracy and “more so in our times” when the pressure of various kinds could curb its freedom. Delhi Chief Miniser Arvind Kejriwal said free journalism has always faced challenges. “In present time, those challenges have not gone down,” he added. Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Birendra Singh were among those who attended the event.