The four requisites, or ‘pillars’ of democracy, as we call them are the executive, legislature, judiciary, and the free press. Even if one of these pillars is absent or is demolished, democracy will cease to be called so. Free media is supposed to be the most vital of the four.
However, gone are the days when radio or newspapers were the only media that delivered the news. With the dawn of the IT revolution and the spread of the use of internet like wildfire, the flow of information isn’t restricted to the conventional media anymore. Reporting these days isn’t done by journalists alone, but also the active internet using citizens called ‘netizens’. Social media has played the biggest role in perpetuating this flow of information at a high pace worldwide.
Indian journalism and the media industry, however, is in shambles today. This, I feel, is because journalists have not a speck of integrity left within, and are concerned only about how to hike their TRPs and earn ad revenue profits.
When we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, when farmers, migrant labourers and health workers are dying, the youth is unemployed, the students are losing purpose, the nation is almost in a war-like situation with China, and the GDP dropped to -23.9%, what is our media doing?
Well, with complete disregard for privacy, personal space, and due judicial process, it is busy with the ‘character assassination’ of, and with irrelevant misogynistic prime time debates on, Rhea Chakraborty, in connection with Sushant Singh Rajput’s case. This simply showcases the immoral and insensitive revelling of the TRP-hungry news anchors and their channels.
Another example of irresponsible journalism is the Sudarshan TV show ‘Bindas Bol’, that attempts to vilify the Muslim bureaucrats and UPSC toppers from the Muslim community. Its online promotion with #UPSC_jihad just attempts to rumour-monger and promote hateful propaganda and partisan deception about Muslims in the bureaucracy and in general.
Let us also not forget how hateful memes can spread like wildfire and incite violence. Remember the recent Bengaluru violence, that erupted as a result of a political leader’s social media post that was derogatory to a particular community.
The media, like the judiciary, is supposed to stay neutral and report anything happening on ground zero with absolute neutrality, and no political bias. Sadly, this is not the case with the Indian media today.
There are no well-defined rules or any explicit laws to regulate the media in a democracy. To what extent can media be regulated with the help of legal or ethical regulations at all, if the approach of the top-notch news personalities and anchors itself shows degraded morals and lack of journalistic integrity?
Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. We the netizens, as well as the media fraternity, can still wake up, and not capitulate to this barbaric and cold-blooded attitude of misusing the free press, and stop all the hate and rumour mongering, that is disrupting the unity of our nation. If all think and act with sagacity and benevolence, and use all kinds of media responsibly, things can still be mended.