New Delhi: Stating that journalism has been passing through a "critical phase", President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said fake news has emerged as a new menace whose purveyors proclaim themselves as journalists and taint the noble profession.
He said stories exposing great social and economic inequalities are ignored, and their place is taken by trivia.
"Instead of helping promote scientific temper, some run after irrational practices in their search for eyeballs and ratings," Kovind said.
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He said the fundamental principle of restraint and responsibility has been undermined substantially in the loud noise of the "breaking news syndrome".
"In the din of the 'breaking news' syndrome that has consumed the media now, this fundamental principle of restraint and responsibility has been undermined substantially," the president said.
Kovind said old-timers would recall the magical touchstone of the five Ws and H (what, when, why, where, who and how) whose answers were essential for a story to qualify as a news report.
Fake news has emerged as a new menace whose purveyors proclaim themselves as journalists and taint this noble profession, he said at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism awards ceremony here.
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Kovind said Ramnath Goenkaji would never have allowed the situation to go adrift and initiated measures for course correction for the whole media fraternity.
"There is no doubt that journalism has been passing through a critical phase," the president said.
He said that journalists tend to wear many hats in the line of their duty.
"These days, they often assume the role of an investigator, a prosecutor and a judge all rolled into one," he said.
Kovind said it requires a great deal of inner strength and incredible passion for journalists to play so many roles at a time to arrive at truth.
"Their versatility is praiseworthy. But that prompts me to ask if such a sweeping exercise of power is ccompanied by genuine accountability?" he asked while addressing the gathering comprising large number of journalists, the president said the quest for truth is, of course, difficult and easier said than done.
"But it must be pursued," he said.
Kovind said a democracy, like ours, deeply relies on the uncovering of facts and a willingness to debate them.
"Democracy is meaningful only when the citizen is well informed," he added.
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