Media: The 4th Wheel Of Indian Democracy?

I would rather have a completely free press with all the
dangers involved in the wrong use of that freedom than a suppressed or regulated press
So said our 1st Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Like all the ideals & dreams of our erstwhile great leaders, this too has met a cruel fate.
The Indian media has no doubt carved a niche for itself & reserves a strong hold on the public. The concept of freedom as demarcated by the Indian Constitution in Art.19(1)(a) that gives us Freedom of Speech & Expression, has been thoroughly utilized by the media. I refrain from saying mis-utilized, as the debate about the alleged misuse of freedom by media is still an open discussion.
Let’s give the Indian Media a fair trial:
The modern tech-savvy media is accused of being meddlesome. It seems to turn up in all the wrong places, at the wrong times & speak volumes on all topics having first labeled them as “Breaking News”. No matter what you do-turn on the TV, tune in to radio or surf the internet, you can’t escape the news onslaught.
This information overload puts a question mark on the credibility and the professionalism of the media. The pressure of increasing TRPs of their news channels seems to be the fuel that propels the journalists to indulge in cut-throat competition to grab first hand news. In this race the relevance of the news they are covering and the manner in which they are telecast, is lost.
24X7 news channels running updates on the “Breaking News” repeatedly flaunt their “exclusive” videos footage or interview every random person who is willing, to give their valued opinion on the topic. Is this true journalism? When airing news about a victim, do they really have to show footage of the victim’s parents or relatives moaning in grief? It seems that media has forgotten about the humanistic approach that needs to be taken when telecasting news.
The manner in which the media had meddled in the 26/11 attacks, telecasting strategic positioning of the commandos is just one glaring example of their folly.
Sting Operations:
The latest trick to increase TRP! Sting operations are carried out left, right & center throwing concerns about protection of privacy to the air. A sting operation is rightly carried out by a law-enforcement officer & a member of public who has willingly assented to help trap the criminal. The media however has pinned on the police badge & is now the new crusader of law.
This however compromises the reputation of many, and has brought many careers crashing to ground. Like the recent case of a Bollywood B-grade star. Cases like Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others & Gobind v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Another, have finally lead to the inclusion of the Right to privacy as an integral part of the Right to personal liberty under the humanistic expansion of the Art21 of the Constitution. Let’s see if this turns out to be just another Right that the press ignores.

Free Press Vs. Fair Trial:
The concept of ‘Janta Adalat’ has lead to a serious conflict between free press & fair trial by the judiciary.
Indian media leaves no stone unturned in its quest for gripping news. And what better news to grab viewership than an on going trial?
The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and Articles 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India are meant to protect the right of a citizen to have a fair trial i.e. a trial uninfluenced by extraneous pressures. But the realm of aggressive journalism has severely compromised this right.
Instances of media uncovering ‘evidences’ & prejudicing the public opinion are not new. This leads to serious miscarriage of justice. In their relentless investigations & publicizing of the same, they spare neither the seasoned criminal nor the innocent victim. Both their images are splashed in their channels. Even the witnesses & the kit & kin of the victims are not spared. Witness protection is seriously endangered and so is the likability of the victim ever returning to normal life.
Now for the good acts:
The media may bias justice, it may broadcast senseless news for hours on end, but one thing that cannot be denied is that media forms the 4th wheel of the Indian democracy. With a secular state like ours with varied beliefs & traditions, a strong & independent media can mobilize us for the right cause.
The true spirit of journalism is showcased in instances such as the Bofors case and the HDW (Howaldswerske) marine case. Through media only the case of Narasimha Rao bribing the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MPs, was revealed. Sting operations carried in the right spirit had resulted in the success of Operation Duryodhana in which MPs were caught taking bribe to raise questions in the Parliament. Similarly the Tehelka case had led the CBI to file a chargesheet against those who took the bribe.

As observed by the Delhi High Court in the Bofors case, the media plays a vital role in making the public aware of what is happening in their country. It can be rightly said that media is instrumental in making people aware of their rights & freedoms.

Moreover by telecasting such news media is in a way reducing the crime rate as more & more people disapprove of criminal behavior. As such it also facilitates public discussions on important issues.

Every Right or Freedom has its boundaries & cannot be adjudged as absolute in any manner. While exercising one’s right it should be kept in mind that one shouldn’t encroach on another’s freedom. The media needs to be self-regulatory & humanitarian in its approach to the way it treats news. Only then the concept of Free Press can be realized.

As of now the conclusion can’t be drawn. I believe in giving the media a second chance in proving its mettle in the true spirit of journalism. What remains to be seen is whether media continues to indulge in responsible & professional journalism or the craving for TRPs & viewership rides over the right to freedom of press.

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20 thoughts on “Media: The 4th Wheel Of Indian Democracy?

  1. The media can sumtim go out of the way in advertising or glorifying certain issues. Usually, a bad or detrimental msge is packaged in a glorious way and is made accessible to the public. ….

    Movies that depict filthy rich thieves who don’t bat an eyelid before killing sum1 or extorting someone and the getting away with it, sure give entertainment to people. At the same time, it encourages them to act in a way that promises adventure and thrill in life.
    This way, media glorifies the bad aspects of ppl nd encourages thm to act in forbidden ways. I wz relal upset when dntewala issue wer we lost more than 76 JAWANS .. meda wz not overing that issue these guys are buzy in cuvrng sum..f#$# rahul ajan sawymber nd all…

  2. Agreed that the media has made many mistakes so far, but there have been many cases where the media has been pivotal in bringing justice or in publicizing a social cause.
    I have just tried not to bias the judgment & leave it to the reader to decide whether they think of media as the true, responsible citizen’s voice or simply another example of the falling Indian morality.

    • in which way bringng fmly issue on national chnnl …. cuvrng stupid story like dhoni marrige nd all full day .. rakhi shavant… dew is ony few good Newz ch to r crap…

  3. @Neer: well, thats Page3 journalism for u! Some channels are a bit lax in their duties,they would rather report on some celebrity marriage than on any news of national importance.
    But I say ‘some’ not all..Prateek is right in a sense that previously when there were less channels on air, the competition was less & hence the focus was more on bringing quality news & not just increasing TRP.
    @dreamer: I believe in taking a neutral stand as blaming the entire clan for some greedy journos & channels seems unfair to me.

    • @Rinaya.. dont be so me.. i never buy pg3 stuff.. I strongly believe that “Don’t Believe Everything you Read”…. these dyz media iz like a hard core business NO social responbilty kind thing…

  4. The TRP competition for regional channels make sense, which is why they play to the front benchers so to speak. What about the English news channels though? Their ratings are miniscule as compared to the regional channels. They cater to the so called educated middle class, yet they are so hopelessly propagandist and sensational (not in a good way).

    You made the point about miscarriage of justice because of prejudice caused by media – I completely agree. Imagine Sagarika Ghose questioned Ram Jethmalani about his defense of Manu Sharma and got slammed in return. Who is she to judge anyone guilty before trial?

  5. Thank u Saravan for your appreciation 🙂
    @tilo- well, as I have commented earlier, the focus has largely shifted from journalism to commercialism! Why do you think we are asked to give our opinions by sms?! It’s all about money..Sadly no channel is lagging behind in this rat race to accumulate maximum TRP / viwership.
    Yes the anchors are going out of their way and instead of providing news the way it is, they are presenting facts tilting it to match with their personal opinion.
    About the miscarriage of justice..enough examples exist to vouch for that point!

  6. A well balanced, neutral documentation of the present condition of the Indian media!!

    But, being a person from the legal field, I feel that the way the media has been misinterpreting judicial decisions off late, it’s time enough for the judiciary to haul them up. No more chances for them. the media must learn that their freedom of speech is NOT ABSOLUTE. That there are reasonable restrictions to it as well!! The media interpretation of the recently concluded Bhopal Gas Tragedy trial has planted seeds of suspicion in the minds of the general public, about the responsibility and neutrality of the judiciary, when in fact, the judiciary invoked the harshest punishment available for such a criminal offence!! The media can not go ahead with publishing whatever it thinks fit in respect of matters relating to law, without trying to understand the legal intricacies going into the judgment!! Hence, I do think that it’s time that the court hauls up the media for such misinterpretations and as well as programmes such as ‘Emotional Atyachar’, which are a direct violation of one’s right to privacy and so many other laws!!

  7. Yeah this is true…very well written Rinaya 🙂

    This Media ppl have insulted many ppl for their trps….but there dont know that there have insulted more their own Reputation

  8. Today every channel is covering stuff like Rahul mahazan dispute with his wife.. and some Channel is are coverg Don haji mastan life biography and reporting him like a “Garibo ka Mashia” type.. but he waz a hard core Smuggler.. see how media works.. no cheenal are bother to report about our CRPF jawan u kno what Four CRPF troopers killed in Assam blast and 15 injured still this is the office figure .. its really hearts sometime…. Don’t give that line “The 4th Wheel Of Indian Democracy” .. I kno how media works I have very strong relation in media.. so I kno how they work…

    • Don’t get so biased, if you have a close association with the media may be instead of crying foul at every mistake you should try to bring about a change?One man can’t make any difference,but at least you can lead an initiative?
      Criticism is’s positive action that matters…

  9. I do at least from my end.. blogging is easy task rather than.. talking about on these issue.. Its nothing like Criticizing… I appreciate them in same way.. Must say our English news channel.. are doing good job.. but what abt Hindi news media .. which is viewing by most of the Indian…. Hindi news Channel is still below standard…

  10. Pingback: Freedom of Media in India. Is it justified? Is the Indian Media responsible?

  11. This is an excellent post and may be one to be followed up to see what are the results

    A chum e-mailed this link the other day and I will be desperately waiting your next page. Proceed on the terrific work.

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