We often refer media as the fourth pillar of democracy. And it is absolutely correct because media act as a watchdog in a democratic country by watching over the actions of other three pillars of democracy (i.e. legislature, executive and judiciary). It protects the public interest in democracy and act as an agent by providing worldwide news to the public. If we turn the pages of Indian History, especially the era of Indian Independence, we will see that how media played an important role in conveying the importance of being independent. But with the pace of time we have seen that Media is becoming a bit biased on many subject matters and provide the manipulated version of news in order to formulate a directed version of public opinion which is very harmful and dangerous for any nation state.
Media Ethics is a very vast topic and it is impossible to give it a complete definition. Moreover, media ethics includes promotion and defending moral values like universal respect for life and rule of law and integrity. The free flow of true and unbiased news to the public is an important role of Media as it helps in forming a well informed public opinion on various matters relating to socio, economic and political aspects. This makes it the foundation of the fourth pillar of democracy. Media is not only responsible for providing true and unbiased news, but is also responsible for maintaining the privacy of an individual.
India being the biggest market for media has more than 118 thousand registered newspapers, around 900 news channels running across the country and this number is increasing day by day, and addition to that 21st century also added social media which have much larger impact especially on upcoming generations.
Media also plays an important role in making of the government that’s why it can be termed as two sided weapon. It can construct a country to its highest and can abolish it to the ground. In a democratic country or in any country media acts as a bridge between the governing and governs and thus it is required that media should work free from any kind of influence and in continuance of that should not harm the rights of individuals. For effective governance of media there are several legislations.
First of all, the Constitution of India under Article 19(1)(a) provides for freedom of press which is same as the freedom of speech and of expression given to an individual. The basic objective to include freedom of media in freedom of speech and of expression is to ensure that public is well informed about the actions of government and a healthy and bonafide criticism can be done, if needed. It also helps in pointing out certain hidden motives in the administrative actions. There are other legislations like The Young Person’s (Harmful Prohibition) Act, 1956, The Press Council of India Act, 1965 etc, these acts strengthens media by giving certain immunity and also imposes certain responsibility like in the Young Person’s Act of 1956 it imposes bar on media to publish or show such types of material which may affect the young readers.
Judiciary also opined in several cases that although freedom of press in not expressly incorporated under Indian Constitution but it is truly an integral part of freedom of speech and expression and is essential for proper functioning of democracy. The Supreme Court in R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu, strengthens media by delivering a verdict that neither government nor any authority have power to put prior restraint on publication of any material which they think might be defamatory for them.
In current scenario we can see that inspite of having immunities and rights; media is acting like a puppet of big industries and political parties. In the race of getting higher and higher TRP they forgot their basic work. The news, “real news”, is now being sidelined and only that news is broadcasting which would be helpful for those in power. Media who was supposed to be the eye opener for the society is now requiring the same for itself. Rise in fake news i.e. misinformation and what we called as yellow journalism consumed the Media from inside out. Now they are giving priority to sensationalism over facts. And with the introduction of social media the circulation of fake news has become very easy and the privacy of an individual or of associations means nothing to them. Taking the recent examples of CAA protests and Elections when many videos were surfaced indicating the brutality against the protestors and also by the protestors, also some anti national slogans were enchanted in those videos but after investigation it has been found out that those were old videos. Such kind of nasty action by and through media may start riots which would result in loss of many innocent lives. Media trial has also become a debatable topic in past decades, in one sense it helps in unveiling certain aspects but in my opinion for better governance of the country these media trials should be stopped immediately because they are acting as a hindrance in the criminal justice system and is also against the principle of innocent until proven guilty.
Media is required to act as a vigilant organization or else the coming years will be difficult and disastrous. And being the fourth pillar of democracy, it is required to work in a transparent way. As today, we are living in the 21st century where media, be it social, electronic or print, has become a vital part of our daily lives. Gone is the time when media was just used to gather information or news, with the emergence of social media it has now become a way to express one’s ideology, which in some case affects the masses as discussed above. That is why it is important for media to be neutral and provide raw information without any interference.
- R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu, 1994 SCC (6) 632.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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