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What is Media
Media is the catalyst of information and a promoter of social change. Media is responsible for bringing daily happenings of the world to the people which connect them to the globe. The way the media presents certain things ultimately shapes public opinion and gives them a sense of justice. “Media” generally refers to “mass media” which reaches to a very large audience, the population of a state, and to the whole world. The forms of media have been changing since the days of Britishers started with printed newspapers to current e-paper, television, smartphones, etc.
Existence of Indian Media
Indian media is one of the oldest in the world and it existed before the empire of Ashoka. The print media came into existence in 1780 in India with a newspaper called ‘The Bengal Gazette’. Media also played a very crucial role against British rule. Mahatma Gandhi started some newspapers and journals like “Harijan” and “Young India” which had inspired the freedom struggle and eventually led to India’s independence on August 15, 1947. Media through newspapers, journals, and magazines guides the readers to follow the path of morality and honesty. Today, the Press Council of India acts as a regulatory body for the media. It ensures that the media is neutral and acting as a watchdog of democracy.
Deteriorating condition of Indian Media
As per the World Press Freedom Index 2020, India ranked 142 out of 180 countries. So, it’s clear that the current condition of the media is not good. It is trapped in the cage of immoral behavior like sensationalism, exaggeration of facts, fake news, and paid news. Media often shows sensational news to attract the attention of people and focus on boosting TRP (Television Rating Point) to earn more and more money. This indicates the yellow journalism of the media. For example, the news of film stars is covered in a much broader way than news of stopping a terror attack by the Indian Army.
Politicians, Businessmen, and criminals pay for the news that they want to broadcast through anchors, reporters, and writers. This is called “Paid news”. Paid news can be advertisements camouflaged as news like coverage of particular candidates during elections, distorting the facts and figures, etc. According to reports of the Press Council, 647 cases of paid news were detected during the 2019 Loksabha elections. The primary reason for this condition of media is the declining number of credible journalists, emergence of private media networks, and the poor income of journalists.
Duty of a Media
First and the most important duty of the media is to promote communal harmony. The preamble of our constitution uses the word ‘secular’ and the media must promote secularism in the country. India has seen many black days including the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the exodus of Kashmiri pandit in 1990, 2002 Gujarat riots, and recent Delhi riots. In these times the media should promote inter-religious harmony by being neutral in reporting and without showing any colored motive. In these chaotic situations people trust news channel spreading communal hatred.
The next duty of the media is to present a piece of news cautiously and think about what they are serving people. Just imagine what people feed in their subconscious mind when they come across news like Dalit man lynched by a mob, Hindu died after meeting accident with Muslim man car, Muslim caught stealing money. One can easily find such types of headlines spreading communal hatred. Is this reality? No! People of all communities are victimized equally.
Lastly, the media must help people in electing their candidates to form a responsible government. It should provide correct information about candidates which helps people in forming their opinion. The media should focus on sensitive issues that are ignored by the government like unemployment, corruption, women’s safety, etc. Media exposed many political leaders by conducting sting operations and reminding them of their promises that they made during election campaigns.
We need to Understand
Sadly, the low standards of Indian Media are due to the low standards of people. We have a habit of watching masala news on Aliens, ghosts, Bollywood, etc then what will you expect from the Media. They will show the news that we watch Simple! Some people are fully aware of the yellow journalism of the media but a major chunk of the population are not fully aware which consists of workers, drivers, maids, old people, and teenagers, they feed in their mind what they see. So it’s the duty of each and everyone to aware these people and tell them not to blindly believe in a particular news channel and always verify facts and figures from multiple sources.
Message to Indian Media
The fundamental duty of the media is to create informed citizens to empower the society and strengthen democracy and along with this, it should focus on strengthening communal peace, harmony and promoting brotherhood. Journalists need to understand that they are also part of the same society and they have to bear the cost of reporting that adds no value to the society. The journalist must ensure that their analysis is not only free from personal views and political interest but also based on verified facts. As the First Prime minister of the country, Mr. Nehru said “Media is a watchdog of our democracy”, so the media too should ensure that it’s a ‘Watchdog’ not a ‘Lapdog’.