Challenges faced by media
- The issues of paid news, media trial, non-issues being presented as real news while the real issues are sidelined, the news is being doctored and fact distortion for profits and political favour, fake news, yellow journalism are important concerns which are influencing public and impacting national security. For instance, fear mongering through media has led to mob lynchings and attacks on the migrant population.
- The absence of objective journalism leads to the false presentation of truth in a society which affects the perception and opinions of people. As observed in the case of Cambridge Analytica case, the biased news coverage on social media platform affected the Presidential elections in the U.S.
- The chase for sensationalism and higher TRP rates as observed in the coverage of 26/11 terrorist attacks in India risked the internal security of the nation. The sensationalism-driven reporting compromised the identities of rape victims and survivors despite SC guidelines.
- Trial by media does not follow the due process of law and can reduce the public trust in institutions of governance like the judiciary.
- Paid news and fake news can manipulate public perception and can instigate hatred, violence, and disharmony among the various community within society.
- With the advent of social media, technological changes, the reach of media has grown profoundly. Its reach and role in impacting public opinion have made it even more important to ensure its objectivity, non-partisanship calls for the enforcement of journalistic ethics.
Selective targeting of media
- There was a raid at the residence of NewsClick’s editor-in-chief, Prabir Purkayastha, and it lasted for nearly 114 hours. There are multiple problems with these intimidating acts.
- The long arm of the government is extended to muzzle the voices of those who are engaged in ‘sense-making news’.
- The First Information Reports filed against some prominent journalists by the Delhi Police and the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments, for their tweets relating to the death of a farmer during tractor rally in Delhi on Republic Day, is an attempt to prevent discussions that would contribute to ‘sense-making news’.
- Political affiliations also play a role in selective targeting. E.g.: Arrest of journalist Arnab Goswami by Maharashtra government, ruled by opposition party.
- Senior print and television journalists must speak write and expose very clearly the issues plaguing the press in India.
- Implementing the recommendations of TRAI with regard to media ownership and investment disclosure norms would help in maintaining transparency required for the news media sector.
- Ownership restrictions on holdings of media companies have to be legislated.
- Robust surveillance and compliance mechanism need to be implemented effectively so that source of news is verified before.
- Journalists must resist the urge to sensationalise matters. They must keep a global perspective, and pay attention to the words they use, the examples they cite, and the images they display.
- They must avoid speculation and finger-pointing in the immediate confusion following an attack when nothing is known, yet the demand for information is perhaps the strongest of all.
- They must consider carefully the fact that there is something inherent in terrorism as a violent act that provokes a fear in many that is far disproportionate to the actual level of risk.
- And most of all, they must avoid fostering division and hatred and radicalisation at both margins of society.
- Although India has the Press Council of India and specific regulations, the country needs more detailed law regarding the media to protect not only the freedom of expression and speech but also journalists’ safety.
- There is a need to establish independent press councils, media watch groups, Ombudsmen, and other media self‐regulatory bodies autonomous from the government.
It is therefore important that for the media to carry out their important role effectively and efficiently, the media should operate within a well-defined code of ethics while maintaining their freedom and editorial independence. Professional conduct and ethical practice are vital to safeguarding freedom of the media and ensuring that public trust invested in the media is sustained.
As JS Mill said, everyone’s opinion must be heard, even if he is a mad man. Because every opinion contains a part of truth.