Speaking at the inauguration of National Media Centre in New Delhi on Saturday, Singh said: "Those of you who are the practitioners of the media industry have a very special responsibility to assess, tackle and overcome the challenges that two decades of socio-economic change have brought about."
"In a vibrant democracy such as ours, which revels in free enquiry and quest for answers, this is a significant calling. But there is need for caution while executing this responsibility," he said.
"A spirit of inquiry must not morph into a campaign of calumny. A witch-hunt is no substitute for investigative journalism. And personal prejudices must not replace the public good," said the PM.
"At the end of the day, credibility is the media's currency and is integral to its contract with the reader or viewer. There is also the question of a certain responsibility for social harmony and public order.
"I emphasize this particularly in the light of the social media revolution, which is rendering irrelevant the lines between a connected citizen and professional journalist," he said.
Singh said a mature and wise handling of this phenomenon is essential "if we are to avoid the tragedy last year that befell many innocent souls who became victims of an online propaganda campaign and were then driven across the country to save their lives in their home states".
Speaking on the money-making aspect of the media, the PM said: "It is a reality that journalism cannot be divorced from the business of which it is a part. The responsibilities of a media organization are not limited to the viewers and readers alone. The companies also have an obligation to their investors and shareholders.
"The tussle between bottom-lines and headlines is a fact of life for them. But this should not result in a situation where media organizations lose sight of their primary directive, which is to hold up a mirror to society and help provide a corrective."
He said the media and civil society are an essential part of democracy and nation building.
"Now that we are at a decisive stage in taking our rightful place in the comity of nations, I am confident that they will not be found wanting in this collective effort to consolidate India as a plural, inclusive and progressive society," said Singh.
--IBNS (Posted on 24-08-2013)