Hyderabad: National Press Day, observed on November 16, symbolises the essence of a free and responsible press in India. Originating with the initiation of the Press Council of India, the day stands as a testament to the commitment of upholding high journalistic standards and shielding the press from external influences or threats.
Historical background- In 1956, the first Press Commission advocated for the establishment of a Press Council, emphasising the need for a body with statutory authority to oversee and maintain professional ethics in journalism. The Press Council of India was subsequently formed, and since its inception on November 16, 1966, it has diligently fulfilled its mandate.
This date epitomises the existence of a responsible and independent press within the nation, prompting those who value it to commemorate this significant day. Concurrently, the occasion includes the presentation of National Awards for Excellence in Journalism, accompanied by the release of a commemorative souvenir.
Significance- The significance of press freedom cannot be overstated, serving as a linchpin for maintaining the autonomy of the press. Often recognised as the voice of the voiceless, the press acts as a crucial link between those in power and the governed. Its primary objective is to expose injustices, shed light on systemic maladies, and facilitate governmental solutions within the democratic framework.
Fourth pillar of democracy- Regarded as one of the four pillars of a robust democracy, alongside the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary, the press uniquely allows direct participation from the common citizenry.
National Press Day not only celebrates the establishment of the Press Council but also serves as a platform to underscore the importance of press freedom. This freedom, crucial for a vibrant democracy, empowers journalists to act as watchdogs, holding those in power accountable. However, it also serves as a reminder of the challenges journalists face, including threats to their safety, censorship, and economic pressures.
Press Council of India- The Press Council of India, with its inception rooted in the recommendation of the First Press Commission in 1956, plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the ethics of journalism. Comprising a chairperson, typically a retired Supreme Court Judge, and 28 additional members, including media representatives, parliamentary nominees, and individuals from cultural, legal, and literary domains, the Council ensures the credibility of journalism remains intact.
- Established in 1966 under the Indian Press Council Act, the Press Council of India, a quasi-judicial autonomous authority, aims to preserve press freedom and enhance media standards.
- Reconstituted in 1979 via the Press Council Act, it operates independently, even overseeing state instruments.
- The Council comprises a Chairman and 28 members, with the Chairman appointed by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
Objectives- The PCI's objectives include safeguarding press freedom, improving media standards, and influencing legislation.
Roles & Responsibilities-
- The council can undertake studies and express opinions on press-related matters, conveying them to the Government or relevant parties.
- In matters of public importance, the Council may take cognizance and constitute a Special Committee for on-the-spot inquiries.
- Responsibilities involve conducting studies, expressing opinions on press-related matters, addressing public concerns, and promoting high professional standards and ethical conduct among newspapers, news agencies, and journalists.
National Press Day is an occasion to recognise the indispensable role the press plays in the democratic fabric of the nation, fostering an informed and empowered citizenry. As National Press Day is observed, let us renew our dedication to sustaining a free and vibrant press, upholding the principles of responsible and unbiased journalism.