Why Do We Keep Forgetting That The Real Job Of The Media Is To Report?

Posted by Kshitiz Jain in Society
March 10, 2018

Although the Indian constitution does not have an article that says “Freedom of Press”, it does come under the sub-article Freedom of Speech and Expression (Right to freedom article 19(1)(a) ), meaning, the media/press in our country is free to print (or display) anything they like to (With some legal exceptions).

A free press/media, in my view, is extremely important for a nation to stay stable. It is the only medium through which the citizens of a nation get to know about what is happening in the country and what decisions have been taken to steer the nation in the desired direction. Free media is necessary to keep a check on the activities of people running the government (and the country).

The media has the power to bring someone to power. The media also has the power to take away a person’s authority.

The best example of the media’s power (in my view) could be seen during the “India against corruption” movement (Also known as the Anna Hazare movement). In my opinion, it was the one movement that changed the face and meaning of politics in our country. In my living memory, I have not seen a movement like this in our country where the whole nation (quite literally) stood as an entity to deny corruption a place to live.

The movement was such a success, that the ruling government was not just dethroned, but it was also belittled by the public (including myself). Almost everybody hated the Congress during and after that movement, and I think that is a significantly big reason why the NDA government is still winning state elections. Although this movement is what changed everything, it would have been effectively nothing if the there was no presence of free media.

That, I think, is how powerful the media of our country is. The media is what helps us create a view of a person or an organization (or a government), but as the saying goes:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

With the immense power that the media has, there should come a sense of responsibility, and today I think that is what is missing (almost) everywhere.

Some of the things that I have an issue with are:

1. The Allegiance Issue

Today, most of the media houses have their own bias towards a political group. I understand that any good deed of the ruling government should be lauded and appreciated but the misdoings and mistakes of the government should be given equal importance. In fact, in my view, the mistakes and misdoings of a government should be given more importance and news time because only then will the government address it.

2. The Ownership Issue

Every media house is (obviously) owned by some corporation, and it becomes an obligation for the media to not say anything against them. As naturally as this attitude comes to every media house, I think this changes the meaning of free media altogether. Media can truly be effective and transparent only when there is no pressure on them from any direction.

3. The News Branding Issue

Nationalist or Anti-National. Black or white. There are two issues here that need to be addressed. One, common sense. The world is not black and white. In fact, nothing in the world can be pure black or white (character wise). The best example to explain this issue would be taken from an interview during a talk show called “Shut up ya Kunal”  (No endorsement intended)

If a person has no feelings for the country, has no emotional attachment towards the betterment of the country, doesn’t even stand during the national anthem, but shows their actual income to the government and pays their taxes in time, is he/she a nationalist or an anti-national?

OR

If a person has a lot of respect for the country, stands at the national anthem and what not, but evades tax, is he/she a nationalist or an anti-national?

If this argument holds any good and is clubbed with the famous saying, “nobody is perfect”, I think we can conclude very easily that no-one can be branded with a single word and most of all, the media should (in my view) never do it.

Pretty much like my argument before, I understand that nothing is perfect and there will always be some areas where everybody (including the media) can improve, but I think the points mentioned need urgent attention because a country without free (and responsible) media might as well not have media at all.

The job of media should be to report. That’s all. Creating an opinion is the job of the readers (or the viewers), and the media should not take away the right of readers to create an opinion by feeding them their own opinions.