The Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley has said that in the last two decades, the conventional contours of the issues pertaining to Freedom and Responsibility of Media had changed due to changes in the nature and content of media and the definition of news. News in the electronic media today was being defined by what the camera could capture. In the current paradigm, technology had become a driving force for these changes. The impact of technology was profound as information dissemination was taking place 24x7 across different technological tools and media platforms including the digital space. Shri Jaitley stated this while delivering the delivering the first Justice J. S. Verma Memorial lecture on the ‘Freedom & Responsibility of Media’ organized by the News Broadcasters Association at New Delhi on 18 January 2015.
Elaborating further, Shri Jaitley said technological developments had defied the contours of censorship and the challenges for the media lay within, in the context of ownership patterns, financial sustainability and financial models which led to aberrations such as paid news. The Minister further stated that the challenges before media was to ensure Quality, Credibility along with the responsibility to play the role of an Educator in handling sensitive issues. The challenge also lay in maintaining high ethical standards on the issue of conflict of interest where media needed to be very careful. Regarding Digital Media, the Minister said the financial models would evolve as the medium matured. The digital platform also needed to evolve its own standards of responsibility as it had emerged as an alternative platform for information dissemination.
The Minister further mentioned that Media responsibility was critical in addressing matters related to security, social tension, privacy of the individual and the issues that involved a subjudice connotation. Media needed to avoid the conduct of parallel trials in reporting matters that were subjudice. Shri Jaitley also mentioned that constructive deliberations on all issues relating to media freedom and responsibility needed to be initiated amongst all stakeholders.
During the course of his address, Shri Jaitley recalled the outstanding contribution of Justice J. S. Verma in the domains of Human Rights, gender equality, probity and media freedom as the conscience keeper of the society.