Hon. Chief Minister Dr. K Rosaiah’s address
62nd World Newspaper Congress and 16th Editors Forum - 1.12.2009
Her Excellency the President of India, Smt. Pratibha
Devisingh Patil ji,
Hon’ble Minister of state for Information and Broadcasting.
Sri. Chowdhary Mohan Jatuaji,
My colleague and state Minster for Tourism, Culture and
Information Dr. Smt. J Geeta Reddyji,
President of World Association of Newspapers, Sri Gavin
President of Indian Newspaper Society, Sri T.Venkatrama
President of World Editors Forum, Sri Xavier Vidal Folch,
Vice President of W.N.A, Sri Pratap G Pawar ji,
CEO of WAN-IFRA, Sri Timothy Baldwin ji, and delegates from
all over the world,
It gives me immense pleasure to participate in the World
Newspaper Congress and World Editors’ Forum. I deem it a privilege to interact
with you. In fact, Andhra Pradesh is honored to host this international meet of
doyens of newspaper industry and journalism.
Incidentally, Hyderabad can be called the Fleet Street of
South India in that it is the home for dozens of newspapers and more than a
dozen news television channels.
All of you are erudite owners or editors of various
newspapers. You know the changing scenario in the world and the need for the
media too to adapt to the changes from time to time.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who led our freedom struggle in
the first half of the 19th century was also a journalist, used to edit ‘Harijan’
and ‘Young India’ journals. He was known for his upright and forthright
expressions and practicable approaches.
Our nation adores him as ‘Mahatma’ because he taught us not
only how to fight for our rights without resorting to violence, but also how to
live with values in our respective professions.
According to Gandhiji, “It's the action, not the fruit of
the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in
your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that
doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results
come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.”
Journalists had only one purpose during the freedom
struggle i.e. to liberate our motherland from colonial rule. They made their
pens more powerful than guns. After achieving freedom, the focus was on
achieving economic development so that the living conditions of our people are
on par with those in developed countries.
With the active and voluntary involvement of media houses,
we could achieve green revolution and white revolution. The media houses are
capable of making even the impossible things possible.
Well, with more countries achieving independence in the
20th century, media houses also became truly independent. In turn, competition
among media houses has been growing in their bid to attract new readers and
This forced the media houses to recruit young journalists.
The media’s drive to induct new blood into the sacred profession has led to a
phenomenal hike in the pay scales of journalists. At the same time, rapid
advances in communications along with globalization have contributed to the
integration of world cultures.
Our Andhra Pradesh Government has adopted some of those
methods to disseminate information regarding schemes we introduced under the
able leadership of my predecessor, the late Dr Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy. Some
schemes like health insurance for the poor under the title Rajiv Arogyasri,
loans at three per cent interest to rural women folk for their economic uplift
and the mission titled Jalayagnam to bring more than one crore acres of parched
land under cultivation are unique.
Yet, newspapers could not devote as much space as the
schemes deserve in public interest. Here comes application of new communication
technology. In this connection, we take pride in recalling that late Rajiv
Gandhi strove to usher India into the 21st century equipped with the latest
A number of commercial techniques are being followed by
newspapers worldwide to attract more readers. While a debate over ethical
standards of these techniques is still going, the world has seen new generation
The easy availability of technology and the seemingly
unending interest in information among the masses, have led to the advent of
This has coincided with the rise of Social Media such as
Twitter and YouTube, facilitated by the Internet. It is no surprise any longer
that the biggest stories of our time are increasingly being broken by
19-year-olds armed with a cell phone, something we saw during the post-election
protests in Iran in summer this year.
In the absence of context, the raw, streaming information
being provided through Citizen Journalism may be falling short of doing justice
to the label of journalism. Therefore professional media sources continue to be
Then the question is how to prune such news flashes in the
world of competition and live up to the professional ethics of publishing only
factual information? Some television channels have flashed such raw news based
on SMS or unknown e-mails when Pak terrorists attacked Taj Hotel in Mumbai last
Let us recall the preamble of the Geneva convention on
journalists: “Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to
serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the
cornerstone of a journalist's credibility.”
Another dimension is that journalists who work in war-like
situations, particularly in terrorist prone zones, have to work indefatigably
risking their lives. You are aware that over the past decade, the rise of
non-state actors has changed the nature of conflict and conflict reporting as we
With scant regard to the Geneva Convention, in respect of
attitude towards journalists, or other norms of international law, terrorist
groups often do not distinguish between combatants, civilians and the media.
Hence, we have increasing incidence of journalists being targeted or being
caught in the crossfire in conflict zones.
Be it the killing of the Wall Street Journalist Daniel
Pearl in 2006 in Pakistan or the kidnap of David Rohde of the New York Times in
Afghanistan early this year, and Canadian lady journalist Amanda Lindhout and
Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan in Somalia last year or the targeting
of journalists by the Maoist insurgents and cross-border terrorists in India, it
is clear that journalists have become soft targets for these non-state actors.
But the journalists struggle to do justice to the
profession while reporting terrorists’ activities is no less than that of those
in war reporting. In fact, it is even worse if subjected to harassment by
terrorists. A Canadian lady journalist’s 15-month nightmare is the latest
Whenever I come across such news storeis, I recollect what
our Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore said: “Let us not pray to be sheltered
from dangers, but to be fearless from facing them.”
Yes, journalism demands this quality.
Thus, while on one side, unhealthy competition is forcing
media houses to resort to new methods of marketing irrespective of ethical
acceptability, advent of new techniques of communication is leading to emergence
of new generation of make-shift journalists, on the other side. But, the
committed journalists, who are encouraged by editors to take risk, enjoy no
We also need to ponder over whether the rise of these
non-state actors has been inadvertently facilitated by the media ….Don’t think I
am referring to ‘The Almighty’ authored by Irving Wallace !…. Problem here is
It is one year now to the horrendous terrorist attacks in
Mumbai. After the attacks, a debate raged in India. In providing their viewers
up to date coverage of the attacks, did the media inadvertently help the
terrorists achieve one of their objectives of gaining world's attention ?
For days into the attack, and even after, some media
outlets would not use the word "terrorist" to describe the attackers, instead
referring to them with epithets such as "gunmen" and "commandoes".
In the name of neutrality, did a section of the media
decide thus reserve its moral judgment on these criminals whose brutality was
seen by the entire world ? … This is the right forum to introspect.
Let us introspect whether we could take care of the welfare
of journalists working in high-risky zones.
Whether we could observe due ethics, defined in the Geneva
Convention, while struggling for profits and good circulation figures in spite
of growing competition.
Whether we are making efforts to streamline the use of
modern communication facilities in the process of reaching the readers fast.
Any time, the yardstick for any media house or editor to
measure the success is, I believe, to introspect from time to time whether we
could live up to the promises we made to readers.
Of course, even in politics it is the same yardstick that
is required. I am one of such practitioners.
The pressures of pace with rapidly evolving technologies,
society will continue to look to the media to be its conscience keeper. Even if
media desires to act as it pleases, in passing judgments, the society will
continue to look to the media such as newspapers with a confidence that they
guide them better.
Newspapers, in nations with increasing internet density,
may be going out of business. Yet, the media should strive to keep its moral
compass. Because, whether it is India or Indonesia, readers are readers.