Media is considered the 4th pillar of democracy. Media is that part of the society that will provide justice, which will help create awareness, and maintaining peace in the society. Now if someone asks you what is Media? Most probably one will say it is a means of mass communication like newspapers, broadcasting, printing and all that stuff which gives information and provide communication and that is correct but to put in a cerebral way, it is that means which have high influencing power over people and as someone rightly has said with great power comes great responsibility. But here is a problem this holy pillar of democracy gets shaken when it gets attached with sensationalism.
Sensationalism Media is the practice of use of some exciting and twisted language to gain popularity. It is a part of the editorial tactic. It is practiced basically for two purposes, 1st is for economic gain and 2nd is for influence or show of power and both the purposes are interlinked with one another. It is the method of giving favor to one class or limited people of society by putting another class at disadvantage.
If we jump to the examples, From Arushi Talwar to Sushant Singh Rajput cases we saw media interference in the investigation of the police, media pitting hindrance in the justice delivery system, pressurizing authorities for taking decisions. These cases are the perfect examples of media losing decency and morale and gaining unfair advantage and TRP.
Chasing the suspect’s vehicle on the roads and obstructing the police and other authorities for asking questions is nowhere journalism, it is the abuse of power. Yes, it is correct media houses do have powers but that is given by our constitution only to protect the interest of the public in the larger domain not to satisfy personal greed. It is good to take a stand against drug abuse and to make it stop is even much better but in the name of drug abuse, pinpointing particular people, doing media trials, trending hashtags, and influencing people is the biggest injury to democracy of this holy country. Basically what these media houses are trying to do is investigative journalism. There is no harm in doing investigative journalism but people must have to understand that everything in this world got a limit and if people try to exceed that limit there will be only chaos be it physically or socially or both.
Shouting in the newsroom or using bombastic language in the articles, by doing this they are not helping in anything rather they create bad influence in the mind of people especially youngsters which will further divide people. For proof, one can put a post on social media involving any social conflict; let’s take the example of ‘CAA’ if we took a poll on its demerit and merits there will be different views and that is good also as democracy itself ensures participation of different views in the society but if someone doesn’t like someone views this doesn’t mean they will come on roads and burn down the properties. That’s what people’s mentalities have become nowadays. People have a sense of unity among them but that’s subjective in nature and when subjectivity comes in unity, then democracy suffers great pain.
Take the case of drugs in the Bollywood industry. There have been reports of drug abuse in the industry for a very long but these reports are increasing day by day now on the face of it, it looks a very positive thing but the conviction rate of drug abusers are almost the same or are in proportion with time. So where did this massive media trial went wrong?. For the past, some months media have been targeting industry people and becoming the catalyst for hatred feeling among the people. Bollywood generates a considerable amount of revenue and employment for India and that is because people trust them. These media trials are bringing disrespect to the industry.
Not everything they say is incorrect or immoral, basically what they do is sometimes they leave their house and enters someone other’s house.
PROBLEMS AND WAY AHEAD
- There have been many laws, bodies, and commissions to keep the check on this issue and they have done tremendous work on it but still, they are only at the middle of Everest.
- It is not that media houses have not done themselves, corporate funding influence these platforms to gain popularity, to perform better in stocks and other things, and to stop that there should be mutual understanding to control this problem.
- The unjust benefit of Freedom of Speech and Expression and the Right to do Business enshrined under Fundamental Rights under Article-19 of the Indian constitution. Media houses have been taking leverage of this. Strict laws and regulations get bypassed in between these rights. So the governments and authorities have amended some laws in a manner it will not violate Fundamental Rights and other things.
- Almost complete freedom given to media houses to broadcast needs to be taken under consideration.
- Authorities in the past tried to keep this problem using the Sedition law but things went sideways. Here the lesson is that one wrong or much-exaggerated step can hamper all the positive steps.
- The TRP (Television Rating Point) system is like bumps on the smooth system. Initially, the system was good but over time exploitation and malpractices in the name of it becomes the major contributor in sensationalizing the media. Naturally, there is a need for a new and more refined system with better policies.
It’s not like authorities are doing nothing. A recent example of Bombay police putting some popular media houses under the scanner for influencing TRPs is a welcoming and a very bold and courageous step.
The discussion should not be only about what media houses and government should do or shouldn’t. The discussion should be what people shouldn’t do as media houses are working for the people, at least it should be the case and to do this person itself needs to change their mentality and to decide what is better based on intelligence not based on the robust campaign and trending hashtags.
“Nation wants to know should be limited to the only nation wants to know, nothing more than that.”
Author(s) Name: Gourav Ravi Garg (Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Law University, Sonipat)