Media Should Be More Than Just A Watchdog

Posted on January 28, 2012 in Media and Culture

By Ravish Kumar:

Interestingly, every nation has its own stories locked in words defining sets of priorities across a whole spectrum of issues, both at the domestic and global front. Every nation, thus sadly, has two faces – one for its own people and one for the global populace. While this is not bad, it is not very comfortable either. Media is perhaps the most powerful of all governing forces in any country, capable of drawing strikingly different faces for the nation, at the same time. The different faces are like two contrasting shades of the same beautiful morning.

The two faces drawn by the media are like pieces of fiction and non-fiction – while one settles, inextricably inside you, waiting for applaud, the other stinks of truth and oozes with stories of a mismanaged past. While one face is beautifully unreal, the other is like a nude wax statue melting under cruel heat and dust. Media plays the most crucial role in portraying the domestic and global image of a nation. If left unmonitored, each quadrant of a national issue can be, kind of, dissolved into another yielding an undecipherable shape of the national mass. Undeniably, while it is a policy facilitator at one end, it is an opinion creator at another.

Over years, the mainstream media (both the corporate and the vernacular press) has played a crucial role as a watch dog. The sad part is the fact that we have, in our race of the progression of communicative revolution, misinterpreted and misrepresented the ought-to-be role of media as an educator and a game changer. While we haven’t been able to realize the potential of powerful conjunction of media and education, the recent times have had ugly unregulated coverage for public consumption. Media’s role is relatively untapped and unrealized, sadly.

The finest management education globally has focused on and supported a change-mediated role of media in emerging economies – where the media plays a key role in installing leadership driven initiatives at the bottom of the economic and social pyramid. Media, in the recent times, has shown evaporated instances of accountability, responsibility and ethics. Justice Katju’s remarks about the regulation of Media shouldn’t be taken as derogation to what the media does; rather it should be taken as a perimeter along which the Indian media can bring changes for the downstream strata, if guided and regulated in the right direction. Through funding to social entrepreneurs and NGOs, media has the potential to implement the low-cost innovation led strategies at these levels. Realization of media’s power through communicative means as a watch dog and facilitator of reforms is possible through a regulatory law parenting the media.

The instances that substantiate the need of media regulation are many, revealing the ugly face of the mismanaged social forces in the face of democracy. A targeted media report must go through an independent regulatory body before it goes down the public bowels for digestion. While the media continues to be national platform for policies’ definition, it surely plays a role as an opinion creator. Sentiments can be created and disrupted, and hence, an unbiased articulation of public needs and human consciousness should be the priority of the media forces – a communicative bridge between the policy makers and consumers, a mediator of reforms and a transparent and pervious membrane to ensure that the refined policies are filtered to the layers underneath.

In a scenario where media has become largely brand driven and oriented, freelance journalism (which has a key role to play in the years to come), goes literally unheard. The enterprising youth and the student start ups that can bring low cost revolutions need a coverage and communication. They have the potential to create change and redefine ways in which policies and reforms create an impact. They have the liquidity to percolate the impervious layers of bureaucracy, crippled and faulty governance. If media is just taken as covering a porn star in a reality show, the modern management education (both at the global and domestic levels) has a key role to play in changing this myth.

In a period of social and political injustice, an active media should be extending its helping hands to the governing forces at the top. Education and Revolution cannot actually be achieved without an active and impartial media in action. When global financial crisis is about to create havoc at practically all levels, media has a major role in bringing life-changing results through faster and effective communication across all levels by bringing low-cost technological innovations to the forefront. The reforms, policies and information need to pass through various layers; media is perhaps the most pervious of all membranes. Media needs to educate corporate about the potential markets, sustainable realms where standards of earning and living can be transformed.

The communicative media needs to talk about the dearth of health, education and security infrastructure. If media stories coming down for our consumption are detrimental to societal and cultural infrastructure, they perhaps shouldn’t be consumed. Any attempt of any communicative force to decimate the growth of a developing mind shouldn’t go unpunished.

Ravish Kumar is a student of the Post Graduate Programme in Management at IIM Ahmedabad.

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Pratibha Radhakrishnan

The author has tried to advocate the cause of a free and fair media, whose opinions should not be stymied but allowed to flourish and take wings. While he has dwelt upon the evil face of media regulation, in the concluding line, how come he finds favour in punishing the media for not following a pattern?

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