The power of media escalates beyond the boundary of human control, the fourth pillar of democracy prides itself in being balanced, neutral and showcasing the truth.
However, the recent times show otherwise, media is met with certain challenges threatening the very function of media, some of them being:
As per the reports of DataLEADS and Reporters Without Borders, India is one of the biggest media markets. Only a few people control the ownership. The transparency in the inner structure of media organizations is dwindling, putting the credibility of media at stake.
Most of the Indian media houses are owned or controlled by politically affiliated people. For example, Subhash Chandra, BJP MP owns the Zee Network including channels Zee News, Wion, etc. The European Broadcast Union (EBU) report says that in countries where public media is functional, they have more press freedom and less corruption. So creating a public funding media system could be a step to enhance media freedom.
India stands at the 140th position out of 180 countries in Press Freedom Index. India is considered to be one of the deadliest countries for a journalist.
The Indian Constitution does not grant any specific leverage for journalists to protect their work. However, Article 19 of the Indian Constitution grants freedom of speech to all citizens with reasonable restrictions. Many times the state has used these ‘reasonable restrictions’ with other laws including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Sedition Act, etc. to muzzle the dissenting voice of a journalist.
In the USA, shield law gives the right to keep confidential information and details of sources undisclosed from the authorities. Up to some extent, shield law has strengthened media free in the USA.
For example, many remote places including the northeast, south India and tier-3 cities hardly get the required coverage in national media.
With such impediments on the way of journalistic freedom, it is essential to question, how strong is the foundation of the fourth pillar of our democracy?