The fourth estate of democracy, media, has a powerful influence in the country. However, in recent years, media has been subjected to a lot of criticism for the manner in which they have disregarded their obligation to their responsibilities.
The Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index, which was released on April 21, ranked India at 142 among 180 counties, Norway ranked first whereas North Korea ranked 180. The report attributed India’s ranking to PM Narendra Modi government “tightening” its grip on the media, and pressuring it to “toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line.” They ranked so poorly because they have stopped doing their actual job resulting in more chaos and damage in society economically, politically, and socially.
Today, Indian media is more focused on TRP ratings and less concerned about facts. It has been affected by dangerous business practices in the field of journalism where political agendas and media shake hands delicately. Though many times media has successfully played the role of a watchdog of the government functionaries and has also aided in participatory communication, however, it does not just end there.
Article 19(1) a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees “the right to freedom of speech and expression”, however, the right is subject to restrictions under sub-clause, whereby this freedom can be restricted for reasons of “sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, preserving decency, preserving morality, in relation to contempt, court, defamation, or incitement to an offence.”
Over the past few years, a major section of the media, willingly or unwillingly, has crossed over to the dark side. Many have become mouthpieces of official propaganda. Every now and then, media promote religious polarization and even resentment in pursuit of the political agenda of the ruling parties.
Recently, two reporters, Shantasree Sarkar and Tejinder Singh Sodhi, from Republic TV resigned and took to social media to share the “ethical” reasons leaving netizens shocked. Shantasree stated that Arnab Goswami is running an “aggressive agenda” against actress Rhea Chakraborty. She added, “I was taught journalism to unearth the truth.”
I am finally putting out on social media. I have quit #RepublicTV for ethical reasons. I am still under notice period but I just can't resist today to throw light upon the aggressive agenda being run by #RepublicTV to vilify #RheaChakraborty . High time I speak out!
— Shantasree Sarkar (@sarkarshanta) September 8, 2020
Whereas, the other journalist, Tejinder Singh Sodhi, wrote a 3500-word resignation letter in which he revealed the harsh way of working style at Arnab’s Republic. He added that this was not the type of journalism he was taught. They both are being lauded for their bravery. A source told Newslaundry, “What he’s built with Republic TV is not a newsroom, it’s a durbar… He’s filled the newsroom with young kids who cannot stand up to him.” They both are being lauded by netizens for bringing the crucial matter into light.
A reporter must follow codes and ethics of journalism which includes the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability. Today’s journalists need to apologize to genuine journalism.