Media Promulgating Autocracy

We are all aware of the four pillars of democracy being legislative, executive, judiciary and media. Have you ever wondered what the consequences on democracy would be, if one of these pillars of democracy merges with the duties of another? Each pillar has its own job to balance each sides of the democracy, if one fails the other pillar is the remedy. Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. Therein, now you know that everything is interlinked to the people of the country. But ultimately there are certain factors which influence and persuade the subconscious minds of the people.

One of the factor which is also a pillar is media. People believe what they watch in media. Media these days is not an unbiased one, which questions the government about things of general importance or informing things of grave nature which are taking place in country. Rather it just conducts things which are not under the ambits of duties of media such as media trial and deviating the public from the main issue. The duties of judiciary and the law enforcement agencies are conducted by media these days.

Duties of Media

Media has the rights and powers under article 19 (a) of Indian constitution, which states that every citizen is gifted with the right to freedom of speech and expression. Therein, media can present its opinions about a particular issue, provided that the opinions are subject to proven  facts. Media being the part of a democratic set up which has some extent and limitation. It must be acting as a mediator of information between the government and the public at large. Media must act diligently in transferring information which are of concern to the citizen

Print media is regulated by the Press Council of India which has power to regulate the content being used in print media, although it can only provide guidelines and cannot penalise. Also press council of India does not have the jurisdiction to intervene or regulate broadcasting media. Herein its jurisdiction and powers are only limited to taking complaints of only print media. Now the million-dollar question which arises is do broadcasting media and internet media has any such regulations? Generally, these broadcasting presses are self-regulatory. Although one such regulation, rather code of ethics is created by News broadcasting ethics.[1] Which will be discussed in the latter part of the paper.

Media Trials and Manipulations

The media in India nowadays diverts the focus of public from the main issue towards the irrelevant issues. Media has become political, it has started working under the political instructions. It always exaggerates the issues and politics in India, but stays silent on being asked to present their views directly. This silence of the media creates confusion in the public. Different news sources display variations in informations, resulting in unreliability of information. This highlights questions concerning integrity of journalism and media in India.

The elections are themselves an absolute example of how the sketch of democracy has changed. They were crucial factor of the country but media has depicted it as bare ritual.[2] As India has also shifted towards online news, there is less credibility in the information shared. Proneness to manipulation has taken over the media. Today, the Indian media has been becoming the court room for every issue in India. It is trying to overtake the judiciary and interfere its decisions. Media trial is the modern way to promulgate autocracy in the country.

Media trials hold greater harm to society than the good at large. The original information is very often manipulated or embroidered to grab more interest and public support.[3] The media is spine of the system in country like India. It is answerable to every step it executes, because it has been serving to the public directly.

Conclusion

Being the fourth pillar, media shall operate according to the duties and rights established by the Constitution of India. Although it should exercise its freedom of press, but the concept must not be mistaken with media trial. It has been very evident that media, in recent times, is promulgating autocracy actively. Media trials will only water the roots of confusion and misconception of the public. Being the fourth pillar, it should not interfere in the functions of other pillars, rather it can do the duty of check and balance accordingly.

Media is answerable to each citizen of the country, so promulgation of autocracy or one party promotion wouldn’t be justified along its duties. Its can, though, present its opinions, criticisms, debates, share original facts without manipulation or exaggeration, etc. Media should take steps not to transform into political platforms, but a one stop destination to informations that the citizens of the country need to know. They should not primarily deal with the trending topics and TRPs. Their root focus should be day to day problems in India, i.e. poverty, education, food and hunger, etc. Birth of media was to convey the real ground information to the general public, not to advocate for autocracy.


[1]Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards, NBA, New Delhi,  http://www.nbanewdelhi.com/assets/uploads/pdf/code_of_ethics_english.pdf.

[2] Is India becoming a dictatorship?, The Week, 11 July, 2019, https://www.theweek.co.uk/102206/is-india-becoming-a-dictatorship .

[3] State of Kerala v. Poothala Aboobacker, 2006(2) KLD (Cr 1 482)


Author: Isha Singh from Indore Institute of Law.


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