“Whoever controls the media controls the mind” Jim Morrison
The role of media in modern democracy has increased indispensably in recent years. Media is the mode of communication in which information is shared with people of all over the world with the help of technology. Media is often considered as an institution which provides unfettered scrutiny and discussion on the manner of working of government and the electoral management of candidates and their successes and failure. Media is not the only institution that provides all this information but the way world is shaping with more emphasis being laid on mass communication, media has now become increasingly important in deciding the agenda in elections.
IMPORTANCE OF ARTICLE 19
Article 19 of the Constitution of India, 1950 as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that there is freedom of speech and expression which includes freedom to press and gives the right to individuals and communities for expressing their own opinion without any fear of punishment or censorship. Media can only be effective only when they are allowed to function freely and report anything that is in the interest of the nation. It is a fundamental human right that provides for citizens to speak freely and without interfering. However, this right is not absolute as this will not allow them to give hate speeches or incite violence. This right includes all the expressions from satire to political campaigns. In places where freedom of the press is restrained, or when they are forced to support the ideological or political framework, it is not possible to achieve quality journalism as there is a censure imposed on the journalists.
NEED FOR FREE PRESS
The famous quote ‘Knowledge is Power’ is of great significance in today’s information dominated world. However, most people do not have direct sources of information everywhere and therefore depend on the information rallied by the press be it print media, electronic media, or even social media platforms. Therefore, we are dependent on these sources for enlightening us in regard to various social, economic, or political issues. The most crucial element of media is to discover the truth by following the stories which can lead to answer difficult questions. Their time, energy, and skill help to bring genuine information to the general masses. The importance of accurate information is huge, it helps in shaping the policies at all levels, and it apprehends correct values in the mind of people. The part of journalism that is dedicated towards investigation reveals the most authentic information through sting operation or other modes of investigation.
MEDIA AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights are always a question of great importance but the governments are more often than not ignorant of the fact. Freedom of expression includes with its ambit a variety of human rights like the protection of people in custody, protection against tortures, LGBTI persecutions, and these topics are not always appreciated by the people in power in and therefore the media houses have a greater responsibility to report the abuse of these human rights. There is a standard set of international procedures in regards to Human Rights which must be followed and media acts as a watchdog of these rights.
HOW DOES IT AFFECTS ELECTIONS
The biggest strength of any democracy is its source of power which is the people. The society where people have a clear conception of their rights, are well informed, and expresses their opinion in a healthy way is more likely to have a stronger democracy than one in which people are no or very little knowledge of their democratic regime. The biggest success of democracy is that when people are able to express their opinions in general as well as at the time of voting. This opinion can best in the interest of society if the people in power are asked tough questions and they establish why their decision is good for society.
Freedom of expression also allows people to shape their opinion by discussing, debating or exchanging ideas on several important agendas; the role of media agency is to ensure that the correct information is surfaced among the masses of the country.
Let’s see how media impact the society since we have earlier discussed the common people have very little or no access to news happening around the country and the world and therefore depend on the news that comes through the media sources, and if people don’t have accurate knowledge of the facts then their opinions will not be correct in relation to the socio-economic and political condition of the country and an uneducated voter is unlikely to vote for their best representative. If we consider the large expenses that are incurred in elections which are accompanied by an inability to select the best representative, then it is a big loss for the country, media should also ensure that the powerful people do not get unnecessary influences through the use of media.
Media can be an effective way of monitoring election by using the statistical data available as well as the technique of media studies. That is why most political parties have their media cells that keep track of each and every movement happening across the media platforms. Therefore it is essential for media to ensure that electoral processes are conducted fairly. The following are the roles of media houses:-
- To ensure that they are transparent.
- Act as a watchdog to human rights,
- Works so as to educate people about their issues and agendas.
- To provide a platform for healthy debates, this would help opinion formation of people.
Author: Aditya Prakash Verma,
Faculty of Law, University of Allahabad and Second year