Describing journalists as the "conscience keepers" of society, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said they could become agents of change if they were true to their profession.
"In a sense, journalists are the conscience keepers of society - pointing out what is wrong not only with the administration and government but also the society at large," Singh said inaugurating the year-long centenary celebrations of Malayalam daily Kerala Kaumudi.
"If they are true to their profession, journalists can become agents of change - and change for the better," he said.
Singh said accuracy and fairness were the two qualities that a good journalist should possess.
"Accuracy is relatively easy to understand and uphold. However, fairness implies not merely the absence of bias in reporting on events but also a very conscious attempt to present diverse and different views on a situation or an issue," the Prime Minister said.
Fairness implied bearing in mind that truth often lay somewhere between extreme positions adopted by interested parties. In an increasingly complex world, journalists should take pains to be continuously on their toes to update and educate themselves relentlessly, Singh said.
The Prime Minister also released a book on the history of Kerala Kaumudi and unveiled the title of the daily's new television channel "Kaumudy". He hoped that the TV channel would enable the group to serve the public better.
Chief minister V S Achuthanandan said that the media was capable of playing the role of an eye-opener for the government and administration.
"This is a time when many hidden truths are coming out with the active intervention of the media. Reports on many past corrupt deals are being exposed," he said.
However, a "section of the media run by corporates" was protecting the corrupt, raising doubts that degeneration had crept into the fourth estate also, he said. "What we see now is a fight between desirable and undesirable tendencies in the field," the chief minister said.
The Prime Minister recalled the services of eminent persons associated with the "Kerala Kaumudi" including its founding editor C V Kunhuraman. M K Kumaran, who edited the daily for over a decade, had also been elected to Lok Sabha twice.
The daily's early political correspondent K Balakrishnan had also served as a member of Parliament, Singh said. "In this centenary year, it is time for all those associated with Kerala Kaumudi to cherish the memory and genius of all these talented men who have contributed in building this celebrated newspaper," he said.
Achuthanandan said 'Kerala Kaumudi' had earned an important place in the social and political history of Kerala by standing for the cause of the oppressed classes.
The daily propagated the teachings of social reformer Sree Narayana Guru and was always in the forefront of the fight against corruption, Achuthanandan said.
Defence minister A K Antony, Civil Aviation and Overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi, Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Oommen Chandy and MP Shashi Tharoor were also present at the function.