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New Delhi, March 24, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked the media to counter pessimism and panic through positive communication.
Interacting with key stakeholders from electronic media channels through video conference on the spread of COVID-19, Modi thanked them for understanding the gravity of the pandemic threat from day one and appreciated the role played by them in spreading awareness.
He commended the dedication and commitment of the reporters, camerapersons and technicians who are working tirelessly in the field and in newsrooms across the country, calling their work as service to the nation.
He also praised innovative ideas of some channels like making arrangements for anchoring from home.
Terming COVID-19 a lifetime challenge, the Prime Minister said it needs to be tackled through new and innovative solutions. “A long battle lies ahead of us whereby awareness for social distancing has to be spread and information about latest developments and key decisions need to be communicated swiftly and professionally by the channels through easy to grasp language,” he added.
He said the channels on the one hand have to ensure that people do not let their guard down and become careless, but also need to counter pessimism and panic through positive communication.
It is necessary to keep the doctors and health care workers motivated since they are at the forefront of this fight.
The news channels serve as a vital means of feedback and the government is constantly acting on this feedback, he said. He also gave suggestions to the channels to provide dedicated boom mics to reporters in the field, and take precautions like maintaining a distance of at least one metre while conducting interviews.
He also asked the channels to spread scientific reports, involve informed people in their discussions and counter the spread of misinformation. He underlined the importance of discipline from citizens and maintaining social distancing to counter the spread of the virus.
An official press release said the media representatives thanked the Prime Minister for his leadership and hard work in tackling the challenge. They assured the Prime Minister of working with him in countering the pandemic, it said.
Citing the emotional connect of the Prime Minister with the people, the representatives requested him to address the nation more frequently, and to include positive stories, especially the experiences of those who have recovered from COVID-19, in his address.
They said that a dedicated department with doctors available round-the-clock can be set up to update the reporters and also to help combat rumours. It was also suggested that Prasar Bharati can give out authentic information twice a day, which can be used by other TV channels.
Modi thanked them for the suggestions and valuable inputs. He requested the channels to spread awareness about digital payment mechanisms to avoid the spread of the virus through currency notes. He also asked the channels to also counter the spread of superstitions through scientific reportage.
Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, thanked the beat journalists of the Health Ministry for sharing information proactively. She presented an overview of the graded response system of the Government to counter the spread of COVID-19 and continuous efforts of capacity building to meet challenges.
Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research said that testing strategy has followed a graded response, and approval for testing kits has been expedited.
Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting; Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and senior representatives and editors from prominent electronic media organizations participated in the interaction.