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Current Challenges Of Indian Media With Respect To Media Law And Ethics

As media influence grows beyond human reach, the fourth pillar of democracy takes pride in being fair, impartial, and presenting the facts. However, as recent events demonstrate, media is confronted with several challenges that jeopardize its very own function, including the current test of nationalism in the name of religion, hate crimes, and social evils; the media has played a disastrous role, whether it is through the propagation of religious ideologies, poor reporting in sensitive cases or investigative cowboy journalism that harmed the media's credibility.

With time, the media's methods of disseminating its views, viewpoints, evidence, and knowledge have expanded. Nowadays, knowledge is exchanged in a variety of ways�including blogs, WhatsApp groups, YouTube channels, television channels, newspapers, magazines, smartphone and desktop apps. India has grown into one of the world's largest media markets.

There are various unethical media law practices in our Indian journalism sector at present

  • Paid News:

    It is one of the most serious challenges to media. It is fundamental ethical media to be truthful and fair since a vast number of people will eventually see it and shape their opinions based on it
  • Possible Solution:

    Awareness should be there in viewers to identify which journalist propagates one-sided view and does not identify the key issues at present. Thus paid news can be identified easily by way of targeted advertisements or sponsorships or targeting any specific community of the society. Hence viewer�s education is a must to deal with this problem.
  • Media Trial:

    A media trial is a trial similar to a court of law in which the media house declares an individual innocent or guilty before the court's final judgment based on debates and discussions. Additionally, it results in the formation of beliefs in the minds of individuals, thus impacting the case's meritocracy. The media trials were visible in the Jessica Lal murder case and the Sushant Singh Rajput drug case, among others.
  • Possible Solution:

    Self Regularisation of Media channels by way of ethical codes put forthwith by The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) should not only be limited to fines or reprimand but also strict legal actions against the TV channel by suspending them for a temporary period or criminally charging them in the court of law should be implemented. Repeated offenders of such media channels should also face strict action by the Press Council of India; although it does not have much power at present but more power should be given to such kind of bodies.
  • Lack of Diversity in Reportage:

    There are 800 television channels in India, as well as 36,000 weekly magazine publications and thousands of web portals. On the surface, there is a dearth of variety in news coverage as a result of the 'tyranny of distance'.

    For instance, many remote areas, such as the northeast, south India, and tier-3 cities, receive little coverage in the national media. With such impediments to journalistic freedom, it is important to consider the strength of the fourth pillar of our democracy's base.
  • Possible Solution:

    Promoting independent journalism which is free from external political influences by increasing their watch time and financially supporting them at our end; for example, Schoop Whoop Unscripted, Quint and other regional media houses have a long way to go in our future journalism industry.
  • A Handful Ownership of Media:

    Transparency in the inner workings of Indian media organisations is diminishing resulting in the jeopardization of the media's reputation.
    The majority of Indian media outlets are owned/ operated either by politically connected individuals or businessman having their political influence inclined towards one political party. For instance, Subhash Chandra, a BJP Member of Parliament, owns the Zee Network, which includes the channels Zee News, Wion, and others
  • Possible Solution:

    According to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), it was seen that the countries with functioning public media have greater press freedom and less corruption. Thus, establishing a public funding mechanism for the media can be a step towards enhancing media freedom.
  • Attack on Journalist:

    With the rising hate crimes and threat calls faced by a journalist in today�s era becomes a very serious issue for the media industry to provide fair reporting in any subject matter especially after the death of Gauri Lankesh - news reporter; hence it becomes an impediment for the current lot of journalist to provide fearless journalism.

    Therefore in any large scale democracy; �dissent is the safety valve of the democracy� as said by Justice Chandrachud; but still these ground reporters are faced by NSA (National Security Act), UAPA (Unlawful Activity Prevention Act) wherein they have to face serious legal issues. An example being the Uttar Pradesh incident of ground reporting showing the incompetence of Mid-day meal schemes of state government wherein the reality was as shocking as reported by the media person.
  • Possible Solution:

    (Independent Judiciary + Independent Media + Citizen Awareness) are the key to tackle such issue legally. Media is the fourth pillar of democracy which needs to complement such issues raised by the public or judiciary at various point of time impartially and not become just a mere spectator or puppet for the government.

The media is critical to the country's governance and overall growth. The same has been emphasized on several occasions in the past whether it be the Emergency era of 1975 or today�s era of widespread protest of Farmer, CAA-NRC etc. Numerous media outlets are doing admirable work by disseminating true and reliable facts to the populace. A few months ago, the Supreme Court took cognizance in response to the controversial Farm Bills passed by the Union government.

On the other hand, it has been repeatedly highlighted that many media outlets do not prioritize verifying information firstly and instead prioritize delivering it as quickly as possible for their �breaking news� and commercial advertisements in gaining TRP. Due to a variety of factors, including the sponsorship of media outlets by large corporations and politicians, ethical practices of media have been undermined in the past and at the present.

Additionally, it has been found that, while concentrating on critical issues such as education, health and economy, these type of media channels concentrate on trivial matters which are irrelevant to the context of political upliftment of our society.  Mechanisms such as �letters to the editor� and columns by media watchdogs maintain the media's transparency and also contribute to the press's reputation marginally. Additionally, autonomous regulators that are not subject to the government may be appointed to regulate/ track media houses.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Shubham Singh Rawat
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: AP112053231893-30-0421

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