Thrissur (Ker): `Paid news` syndrome is a menace capable of eating into the vitals of a free and fair media and rooting it out is essential for the health of democracy, Union Minister Ambika Soni has said.
Inaugurating the 125th year celebrations of Malayalam daily `Deepika` here last evening, the Information and Broadcasting minister noted that the Press Council of India and Election Commission are seized of the matter and are making serious efforts to tackle this problem.
Opining that paid news has assumed both corporate and political dimensions, she said there have been complaints against big business players of either paying journalists directly or managements of media organisations to get favourable coverage, often concealing facts.
Similarly, poll candidates try to get image boosting write-ups by bribing journalists or publishing houses. "If this trend is not nipped in the bud, it will seriously harm democracy and society as a whole," she said.
Soni said regional newspapers like Deepika had an important role to play in strengthening national unity, creating political consciousness, promoting literacy and secularism.
She said it was essential to improve the quality of journalism in the country and it was with this intention that the UPA government decided to open four centres of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in different regions in the country, including Kottayam in Kerala.
Other states chosen for starting centres of IIMC are Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram and Maharashtra.
Soni paid glowing tributes to Deepika, the oldest Malayalam newspaper, saying it has served society without a break for over a century, which itself was a commendable achievement.
Owned by Rashtra Deepika Limited, Deepika is published from Kottayam, Thrissur, Kannur, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. The group has sister publications like Business Deepika, Cinema, Streedhanam (Dowry) and Karshakan (Farmer).
Chief Editor of Deepika, Fr Alexander Paikada, Archbishop of Thrissur Mar Andrews Thazhath and Therambil Ramakrishnan, MLA, were among those who spoke on the occasion.