Shimla: Media works as a bridge between government and society and it has played a very significant role in making people aware of the situation and encouraged them to do positive activities during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was stated by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while addressing the webinar on the occasion of National Press Day from Shimla today.
Chief Minister said that the Corona pandemic has adversely affected the world economy and the fourth pillar of democracy was not an exception. He said that the biggest causality of the lockdown was the print media. He said that even the big publication houses were forced to sack their journalists and some curtailed their salaries. He said that despite that the media played a significant role during the pandemic. He said that a large number of journalists got infected and a few even lost their lives. He said although the digital media and print media faced many challenges at ground level, it played a crucial role in spreading information to the people across the nation.
Jai Ram Thakur said that effective interaction must be ensured between government agencies, media and the public to develop trust. He said that it was unfortunate that at times rumours were being disseminated through social media. He said that the main reason for this possibly was a cutthroat competition to be first in news. He said that the Corona pandemic was a new experience of the Government as well as media. He said that when this virus was detected in India, not even a single PPE kit was prepared in the country. He said that similarly, N-95 masks were not available.
He said that there were only sixty ventilators in the State, but today the State has over 600 Ventilators. He said that the Prime Minister during his first video conference said that this crisis was also the time to explore opportunities in it. He said that today five lakh PPE Kits were being produced daily in the country and were even being exported to several countries.
Chief Minister said that the media played a constructive role and not only highlighted several steps being taken by the State and Centre Government but also provided the feedback regarding a few shortcomings. He said that it was due to the constructive help of the media that the State Government succeeded in bringing back over 2.50 lakh people stranded in different parts of the country. He said that the post-Covid impact would remain there for a few years and print media would soon overcome.
Jai Ram Thakur said that the State Government was preparing Policy for web media which was underway for proper management of the web portals. Chief Minister said that if used wisely and prudently, social media can serve as a powerful tool for changing people’s behaviour and to promote the well-being of individual and public. He said that media persons should strive hard to maintain credibility only then they can earn respect in the society. People would only respect the media if they get a feeling that they were presenting the truth without any distortion.
Secretary Information and Public Relations Rajneesh while welcoming the Chief Minister and other dignitaries in the webinar said that it was due to the Covid pandemic that the Department decided to hold a webinar to ensure participation of a maximum number of journalists.
Editor-in-Chief Uttam Hindu Irwin Khanna said that in Corona pandemic social media has emerged stronger as due to the lockdown, it was not possible to supply newspapers. He said that like other business, the media industry, particularly the print media got adversely affected in the pandemic, but slowly the print media was once again regaining its lost ground. He said that the media must also highlight the positive news from the right perspective. Media should also educate the people regarding the steps required to be taken to check the spread of this pandemic.
Irwin Khanna said that in the Corona pandemic, the role of media has been constructive, as it fought successfully on two fronts. He said that it fought for its own survival in economic crisis and also strived hard to provide proper and authentic news to the masses. Media must remain within limits only then we can earn respect and regard. For this, each and every journalist must uphold the high ethics of journalism. He said that the media has a major role to make India a strong and vibrant nation and social media has made every smartphone owner a peoples’ journalist, therefore, the role of media has increased manifold.
Editor-in-Chief Divya Himachal Anil Soni said that the role of media has changed with the change in media technology. The media has witnessed several changes from lockdown to unlock phase during the pandemic. He said that due to the pandemic, the print media got adversely affected and was forced to change its strategy for survival. Time has come to move towards the digital media and for these special policies need to be framed. He said that several media persons have not only lost their jobs, but some even lost their lives in this pandemic.
Senior journalists Dhananjaya Sharma, Sanjeev Sharma, Ravinder Makhaik, J.M. Sharma and Aarti Sharma also participated in the interactive session. Joint Director of Information and Public Relations Pradeep Kunwar moderated the webinar. Director Information and Public Relations Harbans Singh Brascon presented the vote of thanks.
Chairman HIMFED Ganesh Dutt, President Shimla Press Club Anil Hadley, journalist Prakram Chand, Joint Directors Aarti Gupta and Mahesh Pathania were also present on the occasion among others.