In the East, as in the West, newspapers are fast becoming people's Bible,
Koran, Zend-Avesta and Gita all rolled into one.-- By Mahatma Gandhi.
For the maintenance of any democratic nation there are certain number of pillars required, that is, namely, legislature, executive, judiciary and media. In the ancient time, the method of transferring information is oral communication, mostly performed by traders, caravans, musician, and officials by beating drum in public or through the help of songs, lullabies and stories.
But the veracity of truth from these sources cannot be predicted. The origin of press can be traced in 1566, when avisis or gazettes, which were handwritten, can be found in Venice, Italy. The sole purpose of this avisis is to discuss about action of politics and military. But in context of India it can be traced in late 18th century, when first Indian newspaper Bengal Gazette got published by James Augustus Hickey.
The noteworthy work of press in freedom struggle and independence of India cannot be forgotten. Newspaper invoked the feeling of nationalism in majority of masses of country. Not only press helps in spreading awareness but also in education of illiterate Indian masses. Looking at the mass agitation that press had created, colonial government had passed licensing act, 1857 and vernacular act, 1858 to regulate and control Indian newspaper.
Knowing about significance of press our constitutional maker has not made any constitutional provision on this subject. It is the judiciary that develops the concept of freedom of press by including it under the ambit of fundamental article 19(1)(a) which guarantees freedom of speech and expression to each and every citizen in Romesh Thaper vs. State of Madras and Brij Bhushan vs State of Delhi.
It is not only recognised by Indian government that how much for ensuring freedom of speech and expression freedom of press is necessary, but also U.S. government by passing First Amendment Act. As time flies, the function of the press develops. From information dissemination to watchdog of government and increasing and decreasing religious tug of war.
In this time, sometimes, democratic government views press as friend or foe in maintainability of their stable regime. Even, they tried many attempts to diminish freedom of press, as can be seen in Indira Gandhi regime, primarily in June 1975. But press cannot be said clean hand, they are found in passing derogatory and unnecessary comments on governments and celebrities. Looking an overall situation a question arises for the future of triumph of truth, whether freedom of press is allowed or not? If yes, then to what extent?
How Press Played A Positive Role In Democracy:
In the age of inflation and price rise, when everything is expensive, how the quench of just can be free. A normal citizen who is already struggling among necessities and desire of life cannot run for a justice. Even he want he has not enough resources to get it. Here, press plays their role. Press opens up those stories and musters nation-wide support for those people.
So, that that te apt action can be taken by concerning authorities. For example Nirbhaya Gang rape case. There are so many instances, where police denies to lodge a complaint or government authorities is not willing to perform his official duty, press red-handedly caught those people and brings justice to those helpless people.
It is the media that forces the judiciary to reconsider its decision in Jessica murder case and finally Manu Sharma was punished of life-imprisonment Press is also called as watchdog on government. It discloses so many scams of government. like 2G spectrum, commonwealth game scam, Delhis CNG scam of Rs.100 crore in which Delhi former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung were involved and Gujarat fisheries scam (₹400 crore) in which Gujarat ministers Purshottam Solanki and Dileepbhai Sanghani were accused of illegally granting fishing contracts for 58 reservoirs etc.
It is the press which bring-forth the living condition of under-trial prisoner and raises the question of human-rights of these prisoner. According to article published by India Today, a 20 year-old Dinesh who got bail on July 2010 after 2 year of his arrest was in jail from longer time, since, no one came to release him. He even wrote a letter to his family but has not got any response. He was not sure that his family even got his letter or not .
Every citizen have Right to Know as a basic human right. Press is the most powerful medium that a citizen can exercise to enjoy this human right. Press meticulously and rigorously follows every peculiar move taken by government. It informs citizen on about most of the steps and policies taken by government and also helps government on educating citizen on each policy.
It also conducts debates and discussion on those policies, so that the citizens can form their opinion by after knowing pros and cons of policies. Press also helps in bringing consensus among masses on any issue like #Me too. The purpose of this agenda is to bring social solidatary among women regardless of social background to come and report the instance of sexual harassment that was faced by them.
Media creates a we-feeling and brotherhood among people regardless of caste, creed, religion, sex, race etc. The role of press at the time of election cannot be gone unnoticed. Begin from filing nomination, discussing work of government, comparing work of government, covering most of the speeches and rallies, polling, exit-poll, result to formation of government.
Press also helps in elimination of stereotypes, unethical, supernatural myth and age-old rituals from society by spreading awareness among people. It is the media that merges entire globe into a community where people can know about what are happening far miles of their houses. It is the media that empower the citizen and strengthen democracy by giving voice to voiceless people and highlighting the fallacies of government.
How Press Played A Negative Role In Democracy:
The case when media lacks its wisdom is pre-trial of case before actual trial. Every person is,Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, implies that every person is innocent until proven guilty. In Hathras gang rape case, 2020, the case is not decided, but media already started trial since from day one against accused and even presume accused guilty. The 2008, double murder case was wrap-up hurriedly without proper proofs and evidence just because huge public out-cry created by press.
Like press a person took number of years to construct their societal image but media blows it in a blink of eye without having proper evidence, like done to Rhea Chakraborty in Sushant Singh Rajput case. Unnecessary intrusion in the investigation by media in a police and authorities investigation created huge ruckus in situation.
As properly can be seen at 26/11 attack, how media informed the terrorist from which entry crpf commandoes was taking. When victims of sexual harassment are mustering courage to fight against societal shame and reporting incidence in front of legal authority, an unwanted and vulgar repeated questions and allegations by press irritates the victim and set negative example in front of other victims. Media, indirectly, sometime contributes in creation of situation religious intolerance in a nation.
It is not necessary to inform each and every incidence of religious intolerance. For example, news of chanting azaan on road or through loudspeaker on road provokes Hindus starting chanting hanuman Chalisa on roads by loudspeaker. Media has created an unending tug of war between two communities. Media also plays a huge role in terrorism. It is the media who plays as a lift between terror and terrorism.
The main agenda of terrorists and terrorism is to forceful acceptance of their ideologies among people. Media by continuously reporting each and every moment terrorist make in some instances their purpose accomplished. Media is a platform to educate citizen. But this mode of education was repeatedly disrupted by unwanted and unnecessary advertisement. A problem which we often been neglected is that there is no age-wise categorization among content for readers or viewers.
Cases that have higher altitude of crimes like rape, murder, extra-marital affair, news about celebrity taking drugs and some-times fashion will have bad impact on children. According to bobo-doll experiment performed by psychologist Albert Bandura, children will always learn through imitation of that action which they will always see. Another huge problem occurs when media is biased or have any prejudice.
Most of the people blindly followed the report and content published or viewed by media, without asking source of that information. The case becomes more problematic when audience is uneducated. In this situation media creates an artificial opinion of people which lacks in basic understanding of situation. As can be seen at the time of election, how media is successful in creation of political persuasion in favour of any party or not in favour of a party.
Information in the hand of media can be benediction at a time while also ill-omen at another time. If our constitution provides media power under article 19(1), then also put restriction on basis of sovereignty, integrity, decency, amicable relation with foreign states, morality, defamation and contempt of court.
Media at the moment of supplying information shouldn't forget this. Putting an absolute restriction on media can't be solution in the era of technologization and modernization. We needed an upward development not backward. The basic spirit of democracy is more and more participation of people, in which media is a major helping hand. But to regulate the negative nature of media there should be a regulatory body.
In this body each and every person and parties who has respective interest should be given equal representation. It is also the responsibility of media to itself regulate and monitor their behavior. So, the ultimate purpose for which media was establish which is the benefit and growth of mankind can be served.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Kishori Goswami
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