A democracy ideally stands on three main Pillars namely Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. According to Edmund Burke Media is considered as the fourth wheel of Democracy. The freedom of press is mentioned implicitly in our constitution in Article 19(1) (a), every citizen has the fundamental right of free speech and expression, and the same applies for the media also.
Press is considered free from bias or prejudice in which the main aim is to provide information to its readers about every happenings of the world. It is said that “a pen is mightier than a sword”, with the black tiny letters in the white newspaper the reality of the colorful world is projected in front of us. But now days we observe the media to become the synonym of bias, hatred, and prejudice. Hence new laws and guidelines have become very much essential on this hour of need, to bring back the lost glory of the media in contemporary India.
Emergence of Media in India:
First newspaper was launched in 1776 by a British man William Bolt – where he gave out an application regarding the fact that he would be compiling some news from England and he would let the English people in India to come and read at his place, so it was kind of an open library offer, now there was no official newspaper until 1780.
First official newspaper was launched in 1780 by James Hicky in the name of “Bengal Gazette” it was also known as Hicky’s Gazette. This newspaper was in a true order that actually went ahead and printed on the basis of freedom of speech.
At a time, when India was poverty-stricken and the people of India were being exploited by the Britishers’. Hicky used to put emphasis on the lifestyle of Mrs. Warren Hastings, the wife of Governor General. Hicky’s Gazette used to criticize the lavish lifestyle of the Governor General’s wife. Now Hick’s Gazette was printing more news against the Imperial Diplomacy and therefore, he was barred by the Governor General. He was denied of all the posts and therefore he was unable to get any information. Hicky protested against this violation of his Right to Freedom and Right to Speech.
In 1781 James Hicky was arrested and deported. His press were also confiscated.
In the next years many newspapers were published and two main amongst them the Madras Courier and Bombay Herald (later named Bombay courier), all these newspaper were published as they were government aided and were in favor of the government, so yellow journalism came into existence.
Now more newspapers were coming up and accordingly more anti-British articles were also coming up so the resulting Press Regulation Act came into existence.
In 1799 The Press Regulation Act was enacted, in which all journalist, editor and newspaper were required to register, a watch dog policy was being kept so that all articles complies according to the regulation of the said act, and if any anti british articles were published then they would be arrested.
In 1818 Lord William Hastings abolished Censorship Press act, and India’s first newspaper ‘Samachar Darpan’ got published.
In 1822 Raja Rammohan Roy started Sambad Kaumudi through this paper campaign against Sati culture was being made.
After one year in 1823 the Licensing Regulation Act was bought by John Adam, according to which it was mandatory for every press to have license in order to publish newspaper, so as a result a lot of newspaper were abolished.
In 1826 first hindi Newspaper ‘Udant Martand’ was published in Calcutta and from that day onwards 30th May is celebrated as Hindi Journalism Day.
In 1835 Charles Metcalf abolished the Licensing Regulation Act and due to his liberal policy he is also known as the Liberator of Press, but the East India Company were not in support of the regulation so Metcalf had to resign within one year.
In 1868 Amrita Bazaar Patrika was published (Bengali). Now there were a lot of newspaper till then, printing criticisms about the British policies which was becoming very hard for the regulating authorities to keep in track and a ultimately a act was passed by Lord Litton.
The Vernacular Press Act was passed in 1878, by Lord Litton according to which all vernacular press newspapers were abolished, so after this act Amrita Bazaar Patrika started publishing in English.
Later in year 1882 Lord Rippon repealed the Vernacular Press Act.
Mahatma Gandhi published Young India, Harijan, and Navjivan. BR Ambedkar published Mooknayak, Swami Vivekanand published Prabudh Bharat, Maulana Abul Kalam Azaad published Al-Hilal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak published Kesari and Maratha, Motilal Nehru published Independent, National Herald by Jawaharlal Nehru, Dadbhai Naroji published Rast Gauftar which means truth teller it was a Guajarati newspaper, Hindusthan Times was published by GD Birla.
Problem faced by Media:
Media has always played a pivotal role in the society. There is a rich tradition of independent journalism; we have already witnessed certain big scams that were busted by the Indian Media. Journalists in India are poorly paid, where we should give them credit for extracting that information.
There are also instances where media has sometimes showcased inaccurate news just to gain TRP for their show channel. Lack of proper editing also leads towards the downfall of the channel. Nowadays media houses are not centric towards the important issues such as the GDP, unemployment issues, COVID cases, education reform, farm bills etc, rather they are putting more emphasis on entertainment news to get hold of the audience.
Some of the biggest problems in context with today’s media are defamation, contempt of court, and the major one media trails which has resulted in hampering the credibility of media to a great extent.
Contempt of Court:
As told earlier Media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, Media has the right to Freedom of speech but sometimes the limit of this freedom is not maintained by media. Media can change the whole viewpoint of the people in the society through the portrait of its news. But sometimes it encroach the limit of speech resulting in contempt of the court. Therefore commenting on pending cases leading to defamation of the accused beforehand the judgment is acting out of the provisions.
There has been various instances in which the media has conducted the trail of an accused and given verdict of the same even before the court has passed its final judgment, it puts a huge impact on the career and reputation of a person by creating a widespread perception of guilt regardless of the court’s verdict.
Media sector was considered to be the most important aspect in order to give voice to the unable ones but with the changing times and investment of money in it has hampered the credibility of media to a great extent. The media is such a vital body which has the power to change the perspective of a person and hence the society about anything circulated by it. Therefore it is very essential for the media to exercise its fundamental freedom abiding the law and order of the state, and not by deviating from its sole objectives.
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