The advent of technology and modern equipment has widened the role and stature of media in the contemporary world. Things have changed drastically in the last century and so has the presence of media and its significance in the day to day life of a common man. Democracy, as an ancient concept of governance in the world, has also moved ahead and molded its governing features. The conventional model of democracy having significant governance strongholds like the legislature, executive, and the judiciary has proved to be insufficient and unfruitful to everyone who is a part of the democratic setup of governance. The advent of media in its major role to “give voice to the voiceless” has shown the mirror back to those who feel convinced with the conventional model of governance in a democratic model of government.
There are numerous versions in which media as an institution, has come into play in our lives in the modern world. The traditional form of print media and transistor journalism still has a role to play in our life along with the modern version of media like television journalism and the widely prevalent social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, which are doing countless miracles in the modern society. Any scholar or academician cannot sideline the idea of making media a formally recognized pillar of democracy—just by citing some negative role it can play in causing a certain degree of harm to the social fabric of the modern times. Therefore, it is very significant to look into the various intricacies of the role media has to play in a democracy.
The act of giving voice to the voiceless is something which makes the democracy even further democratic and ensures the maximum participation of the subjects of democracy to achieve the social and political objectives in a just and fair manner for improving the overall “state of affairs” of the democratically-governed population. It plays the role of an eye-opener to the legislature, executive and even to the judiciary at a certain critical point of time and enables a balanced and progressive population to live in tranquility on the planet.
The issue of accessibility and percentage coverage of the population has been a major challenge for the past few decades, but in the contemporary times, the internet and widespread utilization of social media has ensured the existence of media as an institution—even in the remotest parts of the world. The accessibility and comprehensive journalism was a challenge at the time when we only had print media as a medium, but things have moved far ahead, and the internet has shifted the ground all around, and its role has reached to the paramount level in society.
However, there are numerous negative sides and byproducts of these modern styles of media and journalism, which needs to be addressed and regulated accordingly. Along with that, we need to look deeper into it and access its future. To accomplice this task, there has to be a system in place, and that system needs to evaluate the normal and steady functioning of the modern aspects of media and journalism, actively playing its role in achieving the democratic objectives, and resulting in making this democracy even more vibrant and beneficial to all who are a part of it.
The other major challenge, which is imposing even higher venerability to free and neutral media to play its role in a democracy, is the commercialization of media and the fear of establishment drowning out the dissenting opinions. These threats are amounting to lack of dissent and resistive narratives imperative in bringing the true picture in the mainstream and putting questions in front of the government (which is the actual job of the media and journalists). The overreach of any institution of democracy like the legislature and executive to put a kind of resistance in the media’s job and try to become dictatorial and authoritative is fundamentally wrong and must not be tolerated in any circumstances in a healthy democracy.
The role of media as an institution is not to become the mouthpiece of the establishments in place and propagate the narratives being put forward by the establishment. It is very natural for an overwhelming majority-supported establishment to become authoritative and dictatorial, but at the same time, it is the media’s duty to remind them that it is not their power but the people’s, which has put them in their current superior position. Does this make the media biased and unnatural? Some may say “yes”. But, at the same time, it is an urgent need for the media to stick to its primary job.