Talking Positive: Why Should The Media Be Free?

Posted on January 4, 2010 in Specials

Sahiba Singh:

If democracy is the car India drives, then media is the fuel that makes it run.

Media is the most powerful tool of communication. It helps promoting the right things at the right time. It gives a real exposure to the mass audience about what is right or wrong. Even though media is linked with spreading fake news like fire, but on the safe side, it inform us about the realities as well.

The world is moving towards progress in every walk of life. But when we look towards societies, it feels as if some thing is still missing. Money, power, lust, etc., is the wish of every human being. But we can’t deny the fact that we all are bounded with loads of social problems, which are hard nuts to crack. Social issues are matters which directly or indirectly affect many or all members of a society and are considered to be problems, controversies related to moral values, or both. Social issues include poverty, violence, corruption, bribery, suppression of human rights, discrimination, and crime, killing in the name of honor, etc. are growing.

Media has a constructive role to play for the society. Today Newspapers and even some News Channels help us estimate the realities of life.

Over the years there has been a shift in media’s role, from mere reporting to investigative. The break through case was Jessica Lal’s murder case. After long years an unjust judgment was passed which triggered media and public outcry. Many newspapers printed the official documents and reports which highlighted the corruption in our system. Many media houses started public campaign which resulted in re-opening of the case. The re-trail was aggressively covered by both the print and television media. All the efforts resulted in nabbing the perpetrators of the crime.

It was not just a one off case but many more cases followed. Many cases which were forgotten saw light and justice was delivered. More recently, Ruchika case has been taken up by the media and the manipulative power of people on higher post hasn’t been able to stop the campaign for Ruchika.

Its not just social issues that have seen in-depth coverage, the political and national issues are also given enough coverage. The reporting of elections has changed completely. From just announcement of dates to now discussing every aspect. The Indian electoral has never been so informed about the policies and the developments of centre and state governments.

Because of media’s new role various factions of the society feel that the duty of media is to report and not to go in the depth of every headline. Many accuse media of carrying out cases of their own in the public against the accused, wrongly influencing the general public against them. The Shiv Sena has been the most vocal amongst the political parties condemning media. The recent attacks on the IBN offices were meant to silence the media. But the attacks were condemned by one and all.

With the media growing strong, there has been commercialization of news network. With channels running 24/7, they cannot repeat the same news all day long, so in order keep their viewership they often create or sensationalize news. The page 3 culture reporting has seen a tremendous growth. Just like any other industry, we have some extremely reputed media houses and some which are power/money hungry.

Does the media deserve freedom?

Yes! It deserves freedom to report honestly, to make the public more aware and to keep a track on government policies. But with power comes great responsibility. The media should be neutral and must understand the importance of its reach. Sensationalizing can get them TRPs but their duty is to report and not sensationalize news for their own financial benefits. Self-censorship and restrain never harms anyone.

So after a good amount of introspection, the media must pledge to be honest and live up to its freedom.

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The writer is a correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz


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