Democracy is described as the government by the people, for the people & of the people through their elected representatives. The democracy is balanced by the three pillars of Democracy namely The Executive, The Legislative and The Judiciary but now in this era Media is considered as the fourth pillar.
The term: Media, The Fourth Pillar of Democracy is coined by Thomas Carlyle.
Media as the watchdog plays a very important role in every democracy so in the world’s largest democracy, its role becomes immensely important. In the history of India, media has been recognized as influential, patriotic and trust worthy in the socio, economic and political climate of the nation. One of the main purpose of the media is to create awareness about various social, political and economic activities amongst the people by providing accurate news and all types of views to the people. Hence the media is like a mirror to the world which reflects the truth and even the harsh realities. The media is trusted by everyone and people always trust actual and honest news
India is the biggest market for the 4th pillar of democracy with over 80,000 + registered newspapers, and almost 700 television news channels, running all over India across various regions, and these numbers are increasing day by day. Including the social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp, India provides the largest user base because of its lenient and restriction free cyber laws. Despite this large user base and circulations, the media in India covers news to a larger extent of Entertainment, Politics or Corporate advertisement only rather than to educate and show truth to the people.
Has the media lost its credibility or integrity?
It’s high time that we discuss whether the fourth pillar of Indian democracy is collapsing. With the growth of TRP and paid news environment in recent years, the trust over the media has taken a drastic hit, and because of this, the biggest victim is the Indian Democracy. The truth is not always shown by the media due to which to people are misinformed or are not informed completely. The values, views, philosophy and perspectives are slowly and steadily eroding and vanishing from journalism. The fourth pillar is supposed to be the watchdog for the society. The sacredness and the sanctity of journalism lately are stinking and decaying. The channels and newspapers many times seem to be supporting political parties or organisations or a religion. The foul practice of taking money or taking favours from the corporate houses, government, political parties or big organizations, in order to show favourable news about them, is becoming a very common practice in journalism. The result news items and columns are coloured and shown according to the dictum of their Godfathers. Today, the main and uppermost task is pleasing and gratifying the masters barring a few exceptions. The paid news which is sponsored by the above mentioned, easily deviate from the real objective or truth. Many a times people are portrayed guilty by the media even before the judgement by the Court of Law.
When the first three pillars function smoothly all is well, but when they malfunction there is exploitation, corruption, crime, confrontation, and extortion at all levels. In such a scenario the fourth pillar has a vibrant and an utmost important role to play. But when it turns a blind eye from the malfunction then our belief in a democracy becomes farfetched.
In this era the media is considered as the daily necessity, because the day starts with the media and ends with the same, whether it’s the social, print or electronic media. It is high time for the media to stick to its primary job of showing the facts or the truth. In a democratic setup, media is the voice of the voiceless. The events and moments that take place in the society are to be spoken, written, pictured, presented and portrayed as it is and never colour them according to the vested interest of a few individuals or political parties or organisations or religious leaders.
The media is entrusted by the people to keep an eye on the first 3 pillars of our democracy. If the media continues to behave in an inappropriate way as it has lately, the trust that the people have on them will vanish completely. Then whom will the people trust? Then whom will the people turn to? Then what happens to the Democracy?
If that happens, Will the media actually be worth calling the 4th Pillar of democracy?
Image Source – The Statesman