Indian Media: Quo Vadis?

Source: The Hindu

Subject: Governance

Topic: Accountability

Issue: Free media to ensure accountability

Context: The Fourth Estate having slipped from its true place in a democracy is a serious concern and there’s much to do to set things right again.

Synopsis:

  • Various issues such as economic growth, the freeing of broadcast media from government control and the internet have transformed media since 1991.
  • This has led to an explosion of media in terms quantity and style.

Key issues with the current functioning of media:

  • “Breaking news” culture and the search for the villain of the day.
  • The audiovisual media today serves simultaneously as witness, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner.
  • Social media, with its culture of unverified “fact” and viral opinion, compounds the problem.
  • Print Media is also affected by this culture now feel pressed to publish without the traditional recourse to fact-checking.
  • The distinctions among fact, opinion and speculation, reportage and rumor, sourced information and unfounded allegation have completely blurred.

Significance of a free and well-functioning media:

  • Free media are the lifeblood of our democracy.
  • Media provide the information that enables a free citizenry to make the choices of who governs them.
  • Media ensures that those who govern will remain accountable to those who put them there.
  • Government needs a free and professional media to keep it honest and efficient, to serve as both mirror (to society) and scalpel (to probe wrongdoing).

The way ahead:                                      

  • Engender a culture of fact-verification and accuracy.
  • Insist on better journalistic training at accredited media institutes that emphasize values of accuracy, integrity and fairness in their students.
  • Ensure different perspectives in newsrooms and not allow them to become echo chambers forcing an opinion onto their viewer
  • Introduce laws and regulations that limit control of multiple news organizations by a single business or political entity
  • A single overseer for print and television news companies, as recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the parliamentary Committee on Information Technology.

 

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