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The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee delivering the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture, organised by the Express Group, in New Delhi on May 25, 2017.

Media must choose to reflect a plurality of opinions for that is what breathes life into our democracy

Newdelhi:26*5/17: President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee delivered the Ramnath Goenka Memorial lecture said that  Ramnath Goenka embodied the finest virtues of journalism: fierce independence, fearlessness and a determination to always stand up to the powerful and fight against the abuse or misuse of power. In fact, there was nothing he enjoyed more than a fight to protect the right of The Indian Express to publish what he thought was proper and just.

The President said that technology has led to a phenomenal growth in the means of communication, bombarding the public with unprecedented volumes of data, information and, not least, opinion. This has had many positive outcomes: foremost, it has broken the shackles of silence imposed on the powerless. The sense of liberation that the Internet and social media especially, allows, has ensured that everyone has a voice and that even small voices in the remotest areas can be heard. The average citizen has been truly empowered in her ability to speak out and to find out. All of this growth has resulted in a plurality and diversity in the access to information. There is a whole new information world out there to be tapped by our people across the length and breadth of the country. However, the downside is that the sheer scale and volume of data and information means that much of what is available today remains unfiltered and unmediated. In many cases, even unchecked.

The President said that he believes the media must safeguard the public interest, and provide a voice to the marginalized in our society. Our people face enormous inequalities which need to be articulated and highlighted continuously – by the media — in order to ensure they are addressed by those who govern. For it to be able to aim for the highest standards of professionalism, journalists and media organizations must turn the spotlight inwards, on themselves. They must hold themselves to the standards they demand of others.

The President said that the Press and the media are considered to be the fourth pillar of the democracy. It wields extra ordinary powers of not only holding the other three pillars accountable, but also influencing and shaping public opinion like no other institution of democracy can. While this enormous power, to sustain itself requires the basic dictum of freedom of expression, at the same time it puts an equally enormous responsibility of accountability and credibility on the media itself. To my mind, while the press will be failing in its duty if it does not pose questions to the powers that be, it will have to simultaneously judge the frivolous from the factual and publicity from reportage.

About Editor in chief

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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