Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that any attack on the freedom of press is detrimental to national interests and should be opposed by one and all.
He also said that democracy cannot survive without a free and fearless press.
Naidu made the remarks in a video message at a webinar on 'Role of media during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on media" organised by the Press Council of India to mark the National Press Day.
He said press in India has always been at the vanguard of protecting and strengthening the foundations of democracy.
"A robust, free and vibrant media is as important as an independent judiciary in consolidating democracy and strengthening constitutional rule of law," the vice president opined.
At the same time, Naidu advised the media to be fair, objective and accurate in its reporting. "Sensationalism should be avoided and the tendency to mix news with views needs to be curbed. Also, there should be greater space for development news in our reporting," he said.
"Democracy cannot survive without a free and fearless press. Therefore, any attack on the freedom of the press is detrimental to national interests and should be opposed by one and all," he said.
The vice president also praised print and electronic media journalists for turning into frontline warriors in the wake of COVID-19 and ensuring non-stop coverage of all the happenings, unmindful of the grave risks associated with the pandemic.
"My deepest appreciation to each and every journalist, cameraman and others, who have been striving constantly to disseminate news and information," he said.
Naidu also stressed on the importance of conveying the right information at the right time in a pandemic, "especially when there is a plethora of fake news".
Pointing to the need to guard against unverified and unsubstantiated claims, the vice president said media has a huge role in educating the masses in this regard.
He also conveyed his condolences to the families of the journalists who succumbed to coronavirus.
Referring to the adverse impact of COVID-19 crisis on the media industry, he said it has led some newspapers to curtail their editions and go digital.
"There have been unfortunate instances of employees being laid off in both print and electronic media," Naidu said.
Stating that journalists should not be left "high and dry" in these difficult times, the vice president appealed to all stakeholders to come together and find innovative solutions to the extraordinary situation created by the pandemic.
Observing that the pandemic has underscored the need for media organisations to adopt flexible and resilient business models, Naidu pointed out that more and more people were staying at home and increasingly relying on the media and the entertainment industry for the latest information and to fight the isolation caused by a lack of social interactions.
Citing the huge popularity of the re-telecast of tele-serials Ramayana and Mahabharata as an example, the vice president suggested to the media industry to tap into increased audience base and explore alternative ways to improve its financial health.