Democracy needs a stronger fourth pillar
A new decade has begun. The million dollar question is will there be a new beginning from saner India, and will the authorities realise the need to...
A new decade has begun. The million dollar question is will there be a new beginning from saner India, and will the authorities realise the need to protect all the pillars of democracy and give value to ethics and morals?
We have elected governments, but none appears to be willing to give up the colonial mentality. The laws enacted by them continue to have the underlying intention that a colonial government had during the pre-Independence days.
This also applies to the media which has lost its dignity and independence over the last seven decades. We have reached a stage where reports are routinely published, and news contains less facts.
The spurt in various forms of media, electronic, print and social media or any number of digital news channels has brought in mayhem.
In many countries, the number of journalists has decreased by one third over the last decade. The result is that information is communicated to the public in a blissful mix of facts, rumours and unverified information through social media.
Polarisation is increasing. All this has helped the media to play into the hands of the rulers. Responsibilities must prevail over rights. Prudence and professionalism should play the key role.
There is a need for reincarnation of a new breed of journalists who can restore the dignity of the fourth estate. Unfortunately, these days the governments have become oversensitive and refuse to take any kind of criticism.
Every word is being seen through a magnified glass and every officer and politician tries to find fault with what the reporters write and they are intimidated. Every politician and officer starts giving lecture on journalism, its ethics and how reporting should be done.
Unfortunately some State governments have even brought in rules which give enormous power to the officials to file cases claiming that the reports are damaging and defamatory.
Words like defamatory is being used in its narrowest possible sense only to put curbs on the media and ensure that they confine themselves to report what was handed over to it by State agencies.
In some cases, even the so-called special stories are handed over to select friendly media by the authorities and press notes have become the only source of trusted information. The State agencies have become the judges and decide which is a friendly newspaper and which is not.
Such a manner of looking at the media was not witnessed even during the days of Indira Gandhi. The only time she really tried to gag the media was during emergency and it was fought back, and media succeeded in coming out of the dark days.
Even then it never compromised on its values.
But slowly the control of the government over media started increasing and reporting slowly became a causality. Reporters have been turned into porters.
This has resulted in the media becoming a subject of public ridicule. There was a time when the government uses to take media reports very seriously. Now the media shivers to expose the government. No one is allowed to call a spade a spade.
The parties in power want the media to swoon. But then, who is responsible for such a situation. While the increasing colonial attitude of the authorities is mainly responsible for it, the present generation of journalists too need to take the blame.
It is time the media realised that "Democracy Dies in Darkness," and believe that they are protectors of democracy. For this to happen, the politicians should stop taking criticism personally and the reporters must give up sycophancy which is seen more on social media.
The media personnel need to transform themselves so that the credibility of the media is restored and it emerges as a real strong fourth pillar of democracy.