NEW DELHI, March 24 - Acknowledging the role of print media, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said newspapers carry tremendous credibility.
In an interaction with a group of about 20 print media editors via video conference, Modi asked them to act as a link between the government and people, and provide continuous feedback, at both national and regional levels, on the COVID-19 situation.
Modi said there should be general awareness on the importance of social distancing. He also asked the media to inform people about the lockdown decision by the states and also highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, through inclusion of international data and case studies about other countries.
�Underlining that it is imperative to keep the fighting spirit of the people up, the Prime Minister emphasised that it was important to tackle the spread of pessimism, negativity and rumour mongering. Citizens need to be assured that the government is committed to countering the impact of COVID-19,� a statement issued by the Prime Minister�s Office (PMO) said.
Newspapers carry �tremendous credibility� and the local page of a region is widely read by people, he said. �It is therefore imperative that awareness about coronavirus is spread through articles published in this page. It is essential to inform people about where the testing centres are, who should get tested, whom to contact to get tested and follow home isolation protocol,� Modi said.
He also suggested that information like location of availability of essential items during lockdown can also be shared in the regional pages, the PMO statement said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has directed all states and Union Territories to ensure operational continuity of print and electronic media in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to all chief secretaries of states, the ministry said, robust and essential information dissemination networks at this juncture are of utmost importance to ensure timely and authentic information dissemination. It said the proper functioning of these networks is required not only to create awareness among the people and to give important messages but also to keep the nation updated of the latest status.
The ministry said false and fake news should be avoided and good practices need to be promoted and these networks play a pivotal role.