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Media And Democracy

In today's world, media is a great source of information to people within and outside the defined boundaries. It has always acted as an interface between the government and people of the country. It helps people at both the ends to get the information and opinions of the other side, thus building a bridge between people and government. Media is the basic source of information. It is in different forms like print, virtual, social etc.

With the help of technology and easy access, media has defined a great role especially in a democratic country where it is expected of the media to be free from any biases. It is termed as fourth pillar of the democracy. It creates opinion in minds of people and is one of the most reliable source of information as it is expected that media always provides correct and authentic information. But the belief of people has somewhere started to dwindlein the present era. Questions of free media, justification of the acts media does is somewhere countered down.

All the forms of media are equally important and have significant impact on the people. Social media is one of the greatest used forms of media in the present time. We will be discussing all the forms of media and their influence in a democratic state. Other questions like is media regulated from governing body or it is absolute free. If it is absolutely free then is there a need to have check on its acts as the information provided in the media is used by people not only from the country but also outside the country.

Every information provided bythe media of a country is somewhere used by the media and people of other countries also. It is somewhere representing the image of a country and the way it reflects is perceived by other. In such a scenario where we are so global and media is freely accessed and had influence the misappropriate information can lead to a wrong message in the mass.

Then the question arises that how far regulating the media by government is justified?
It is well known that to the world that media in some countries is totally under control of government but in a democratic form of government where every body govern and is accountable to each other and where people and law is supreme, can media be regulated by government?

We have seen that during the time of emergency how the government of that time has used media as its puppet and how much it has harmed the values of democracy so in a country like India it cannot be made under control of government otherwise who will make the government accountable for the grievances of the people? The correct way to deal with it is by having reasonable restrictions on media. But here a problem again arises who will decide which act of media is reasonably justified or not. We will be discussing further that what is the present role of media and how can the acts be justified.

Evolution Of Media:

Media ,since a long time, has been a source of information and a system that upholds the values of the democracy. It is used to make people aware about the acts of the government, the rights of the people and has the time to control the wrong acts of the government by making them accountable and standing with the group of people whose interests are affected. At the early stages with less technology advancement, the only form of media was print and a little developed version of it was the news on the radio.

With the passage of time, the virtual media evolved and involved a lot of people in the system. Then further advancement and most used form of media in present era is social media where people are having information on their palms using mobile phones. It helps in changing the way of communication and now even a single man can use the platform to question the government.

Media has now become easily accessible and more direct and fastest form of information transmission on just a click. This has helped in raising different issues involved in the present society. The way the print media and the virtual media provide information has also been changed they try to be more attractive and catchier to have maximum viewers and readers. The media is now looking not for news but for views and has now turned from news channels to views channel. The race of getting breaking news first has changes the way of presentation of the facts.

Having headlines just with some catchy words and the way they are presented sometimes deviates the news. All this evolved media phase has its own advantages and disadvantages but one thing that cannot be overlooked is that it is an integral part of the democratic society and has a duty and responsibility towards the society.

Role Of Media In Present Society:

With the advancement of technology and its wider reach, a large part of society is connected to a virtual mode of media either through their televisions or with their mobile phones and other devices. In the present time when the world is moving with such a rapid speed there is a lot of information that is available to be delivered to the people in the society. Different incidents within and outside the country reported, surveys done, debates concluded, interviews conducted, provide a lot of information to the people.

Interviews and debates provide people a platform to listen to their representatives and their stand on the issues, thus building a great interface between the government and the people. Different surveys done made authorities accountable for their acts and different incidents reported help in getting information about what is happening in the world. Now the way these things are presented is equally important that makes the opinion of the people of the country.

Recently, different cases are being reported by the media that made people aware and people have reacted to it well. Some of the examples of it are Nirbhaya case which was led as movement by the people, the Asaram Bapu Case, Ram Rahim Case and many others. These were the incidents where reporting by the media plays a major role.

Media And Justice:

Media being a very active part of the society has played a vital role in protecting public interest. In different cases media pressure has made the investigation much faster and fair. It has also helped in the times of Covid-19 outbreak when people were going through hard times ,media was the one providing information to the people by the authorities and vice versa as well. There are instances of migrant workers moving a long distance to reach their home which has made government accountable for its acts. Because of media, the judiciary also gets to know certain issues among the society and has taken suo- moto cognizance for ensuring justice to people.

The instance where people were not taken proper care in hospitals and are losing their lives, the Apex Court taking matter suo- moto directed authorities to make proper arrangements and thus making governments accountable and ensuring justice. So, in such situation it is the media which provides the information to the authorities and helps in ensuring justice to all. There were many other instances where media played a vital role in ensuring justice and stating the problems of the people at large.

This is the role of media and it is playing its role well. But,is there another aspect to it? The other side of the coin provides some loopholes in the system. In some cases media is playing an overwhelming role and is deviating from its object. The very well known term is media trial.

This was recently seen in Sanjay Dutt case, Sushant Singh Rajput Case and other well-known cases. Media trial is simply media doing a pre trial of the person accused based on the facts the news channels have , which may be authentic or not. The basic harm it does is that it creates an opinion in the minds of people which damages the image of the person so accused. Here the fact that a person is accused until he/she is convicted by the court is being neglected by the media.

There are various cases where the courts have commented on the working of the media. Some of them are:
  • Delhi High Court in a plea by Shashi Tharoor seeking injunction against defamatory Broadcasting directs News Anchor Arnab Goswami to exercise restraint and stated that �Media Cannot run parallel trial�.[1]
  • In a plea by Rakul Preet Singh against broadcasting of maligning campaign against her by media Delhi High Court stated that �Media should exercise restraint, follow programme code�.[2]
  • It sometimes also does provide such news or in such manner that it creates hate among the communities in the country.

One of the basic instances of this is where a channel named Sudharshan TV in a programme Bindass Bol, a particular community was targeted and was stated that Muslims joining civil services is a deep-rooted conspiracy. While dealing with this issue SC held that media cannot attack a community. Justice KM Joseph stated that �Media promoting communal attitude is against diversity and harmony of our country.

Justice Chandrachud stated that:
�As a Supreme Court of the nation we cannot allow you to say that Muslims are infiltrating civil services. You cannot say that the journalist has absolute freedom doing this�.[3]

So, though the media helps in ensuring justice ,it sometimes deviates from =its major goal and does some acts that are against the spirit of democracy. At this point there is a need to regulate the media. It has to understand its duty and has to work within the defined limits.

Media, as discussed above, is a great source of information. But in the present time the role of media has increased a lot. It is necessary to have a free and fair media in a democratic country as it is necessary for upholding the spirit of democracy. It should not be under pressure of any of the institutions. But somewhere a part of media is deviating from the actual object and its fairness and using its right of freedom of speech and expression that affects a part of the society in a negative way.

This is the point where some reasonable restrictions or regulations are needed to govern them. It is for the media also to understand that people believe them and it is their duty to provide proper, reliable and authentic information, and if it is not done people will lose the faith in media and that would be the worst situation for a country like India to deal with. The government should also not try to influence media for their own benefits and media should not try to put pressure of on judiciary. All the pillars of democratic country should be free from external and undue pressure so that the country can run properly and the spirit of democracy can be upheld. All should be secular in nature and should work for social welfare.


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