Shri Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Member of Legislative Assembly,

Shri Sanu George Thomas, President, Press Club, Kottayam,

Shri Shalu Mathew, Secretary, Kerala Union of Working Journals [KUWJ],

Shri C. Narayanan, General Secretary, KUWJ,

Shri Sampath Kumar, Assistant General Manager, Cochin Shipyard,

Shri B. Radhakrishnan Menon, Audit Committee Chairman, Cochin Shipyard,

Shri S. Sanil Kumar, Secretary, Press Club,

Shri Reji Joseph, Treasurer, Press Club,

Sahodaree Sahodaranmare,

Ellavarkkum Ente Namaskaram.

       I am happy to inaugurate the 20th anniversary celebration of the School of Journalism and Visual Communication managed by the Press Club, Kottayam. I also happily inaugurate the new floor of the School, constructed under the Corporate Social Responsibility scheme of Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

       Let me at the outset, compliment the office bearers of the Press Club and the Institute for celebrating this milestone in a befitting manner. I also share with the students, teachers and alumni, their joy and pride in their institution completing twenty years.

       As all of us are aware, Kottayam enjoys the position of an ‘Akshara Nagari-a city of letters’,by virtue of being the first town in India to be declared fully literate. Kottayam was also the cradle of education and printing, since the first school, college and printing press in the State were established here. Besides, this town had gained national popularity by being home to two of the oldest dailies in Kerala, the first Cooperative Society of writers and publishers and also, to a large number of periodicals.  In such a truly literary atmosphere, the dynamism of the Kottayam Press Club and its multi-dimensional contribution towards the development of journalism, come as no surprise.

       The School of Journalism and Visual Communication, initiated by the Press Club stands as a mark of the commitment of this professional body towards the furtherance of responsible Journalism. I am informed that since its inception in 1989 it has nurtured more than 1000 students in journalism and photo journalism and that a good number of them have found placements in leading newspapers and other media. I am happy to know that one student could participate in a study tour to media and journalism universities in the United States of America.

       What I find really impressive is the cooperation of the government, civil society and the public sector in the development of the Press Club in Kottayam. Earlier, Hindustan Newsprint Ltd and now, Cochin Shipyard have used their Corporate Social Responsibility funds to improve the infrastructure in the Press Club which had entered the ‘Limca Books of World Records’in 2011 for launching India's first  online news box system- ‘Box 4 News’-using digital technology.

       All these point to the goodwill enjoyed by the Press Club and the journalist fraternity in Kottayam. This goodwill also brings upon the media-persons a great responsibility, that is, to ensure a fearless and objective Press. It is for this that the Constitution imposes only the most reasonable restrictions in the Freedom of speech and expression, as given in Article 19 (1)(A). The society expects from the Media, a fearless response to social evils, a boldness to hold power-centres to account and a responsibility to educate and mobilize people for strengthening our ideals of democracy, freedom and equality. 

       As a collective of professionals, the Press Clubs have been active in ensuring the rights of media-persons within and outside their organizations.       As the former judge who heard and gave the verdict in favour of journalists in the case on the Majithia Wage Board suggestions, I had an opportunity to study the wage and service conditions in media organizations. With newer forms of media emerging, I feel it is time to consider a positive standardization of the wage structure across various types of media.

       As we all know, Indian journalism has evolved through a historic fight for independence, which had conferred on journalists, the status of social activists.   Today, the concept of objectivity in journalism has been challenged and 'taking a stand' has become more important. Often, the boundary between news and views is becoming less clear. We are also in the era of Post Truth where emotions override facts, which were once considered holy in journalism. The Editorial freedom has to bend before Advertorials and Paid News which are planted to conceal real issues. In short, news has become a commodity to be sold and journalistic ethics are struggling to be different from the ethics of the market.

       The digitization of the media has resulted in limitless freedom which has brought a stronger culture of participative journalism as well as blatant misuse of the media, especially social media. While the participative culture deserves to be encouraged, the instances of misuse have to be controlled. The misuse of the media raises issues of accountability, ethics and legality of actions. We have reached a stage where a fake call for hartal could bring some of our districts to a standstill.  Such trends call for greater vigilance on the part of responsible media-persons to help society by exposing fake reports.

       In fact, the reckless use of social media also calls for a certain level of education about the society. I would suggest that the School of Journalism and Visual Communication could start a campaign for the responsible use of social media among the youth in Kottayam. Most people are not aware of the legal implications of their irresponsible behavior on the social media platforms.  The rise in the number of cases registered against the irresponsible use of social media points to the need for such a campaign.

       The social transformation of Kerala was certainly made possible with the support of various media. Since social transformation is a never ending process, the participation of the media as a corrective force is always essential.   At the same time, an excessively cynical attitude is not becoming of a responsible Press. Let me also remind you that the context of what we report is equally important as the content of the news. Often, I see fragments of a sentence being cleverly culled out to make a sensation. The ethical practice of explaining the context of that sentence is unfortunately, not followed. Media should also consider it a duty to sensitize society on the issues of the gender minorities, the need for environmental protection, the importance of women empowerment, the rights of children etc.

       In conclusion, I wish the School of Journalism and Visual Communication greater glory in the years to come. I hope the Institute will instill in students, the courage to stand with the people who need help and to support the downtrodden. Tomorrow's journalism is in the hands of the journalism educators of today.

       I wish the students, faculty and the twenty year celebration all success. Let me conclude by complimenting the organizers for conducting this meeting in a befitting manner.


Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal


Jai Hind