“The press is responsible for upholding free speech,” Modi said while speaking at an event commemorating the National Press Day at Vigyan Bhavan here.
“External control of press is not good for the society. The media is instrumental for upholding free speech. Freedom of expression must be maintained,” he said.
The Prime Minister said external control does not help in upholding the freedom of expression. “Internal discipline in the media is more important than any external intervention,” he said.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi on the need to self-regulation, Modi said: “The government should not have any interference in working of the media.”
Citing the importance of self-regulation in the media, Modi said: “After the Kandahar plane hijack (in 1999) and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks (in 2008), we witnessed examples of media’s self-regulation.”
The Prime Minister said earlier journalists thought a lot before filing a report, but perhaps challenges today are different.
“I have been friends with journalists for a long time. They just need 10 per cent of information, and they can then find the 90 per cent out,” Modi said.
Recalling the Press Council of India’s role during the Emergency, Modi said: “We remember how the Press Council ceased to exist during the Emergency. And the things for the media normalised after Morarji Bhai (Morarji Desai) became the Prime Minister.”
The Prime Minister said it is the media’s responsibility to make appropriate changes with time, as many newspapers have shifted to digital mediums.
Referring to recent killings of media persons, Modi said: “Any death is worrisome, but journalists losing their lives just because they are highlighting the truth becomes even more serious.”
He termed the attack on the media as the most cruel act.
On the occasion, the Prime Minister also praised media for playing a constructive role in spreading the message of cleanliness.