INDIAN MEDIA AND JOURNALISM
Author: Prathamesh Upadhyay, pursuing Law, Institute of law Nirma University
Recently, the Sushant Singh Rajput case and the Bollywood drugs case took all over the media and which took the aura of politics and turned into violence.
The role of journalism is to primarily provide information. Journalism is a tool that epitomizes information that is to be proclaimed on the wings of truth, authenticity, objectivity, loyalty and honesty. The purpose of journalism is to provide the citizen with information that can change or influence communities or specifically society and in all these media plays an important role and at the end what we have witnessed in past years have been very damaging. Access to high-quality information and an ability for citizens to come together to discuss and deliberate are integral elements of a democratic society.
In the Indian context, ingress to the news has been frightfully increased in recent years (thanks to the digital program by the government). However, the widespread use of these technologies has led to the manipulation or concern around the world in the quality of the headlines.
Being said that the media is the fourth pillar of democracy. Needless to say what we are witnessing in today’s so-called developing India it is not the same. We have completed 73 years of our independence, many parties came in and out but no one cared to draft legislation which is necessary and it is not only that we need legislation now but it has been since a very long time.
We have the law for every damn thing, why isn't the media regulated? And the funny part is nowhere in the future it is going to be, because if it is then how the propaganda and the one-sided ideology will be shown.
What media shows us today is invading into someone's privacy like landing onto someone car in the middle of traffic, what they eat, what they like to wear, making catchy headlines, I know everybody has to make that but then it is worse when they make it of no sense and I am very keen and I find it very funny giving this example (dam dam Biden!) like seriously this is something cartoon channel going on.
Recently press freedom index released by reporters without borders and India ranked 142 and the six parameters they consider one of them being media independence and which is very crucial is gone like totally gone!. India also has murders of journalists and around 6 in 2018 killing another one of the parameters. There have been constant press freedom violations, including police violations against journalists, ambushes by political leaders (that’s a never-ending process) and retaliation instigated by criminal groups and officials.[i]
‘Balance’ has become the new way of hiding false equivalences that news organizations deploy to show and allow the voices of hate, prejudice and plain bigotry. Making people chant only one-sided ideology is the provocative headline of media.[ii]
Journalists are taught to be fair in their career and strive to get both sides of the story and that means they should not look upon their ideologies and point but whatever the story says is to show and beside this they must get a response to say something let’s say allegations now, that’s called balanced. But the belief of balance is often carried to a hilarious length and is an embarrassment to absurd convolutions to highlight a particular ideology and balance then become the cover for false equivalences that news organizations deploy to show. The most contentious statement given on a news channel, even if we take it as a charitable view but then we have to think whether these people will be given the oxygen of publicity.
Let’s say if some neta from a state makes a statement against a community so, what should a journalist do? Call a spokesperson for another party and make him refute the statement? Who is the best spokesperson? A religious figure, a political leader, the common man?
Another common practice of media is to call a panel and run their one-sided agenda and calling it balanced and acting it if they are like the best anchor and hosting the show and they have got the best of them all and then cutting them loose when they are not supporting the same ideologies and then all these one-sided panels (by shouting) rips them (opposition) off the debate. That’s what entertainment is and that's all, calling them a balanced journalist. These are common illustrations, unfortunately when the motion of journalists is made mockery who is to say that is balanced journalism. The question is- why debate that issue in the first place?
Then well a counter-question would be- should journalists be ideological and only push their agendas?
Well, the answer is easy. The journalist should not publish their ideas and points all the time and should just provide a platform for a sensible commentary or analysis of every opinion.
And before I end, I think we need a law to regulate media and this should be done at a primary basis and as I said we need to give media independence but we need to regulate it through the law as well.