Author: Arryan Mohanty
The government, the opposition, the courts, and the media make up democracy. India is the largest democracy in the world, and the media has always been crucial in shaping the nation's progress. The media's contribution is to increase public awareness of various bits of information and knowledge. People think that the media is the sole reliable source of knowledge and communication about events that happen and don't happen throughout the world. By creating clarity between the government and the people, the media builds an abstract connection between them.
The media serves as the "voice of the people. When a political party is corrupt, avoid being biased towards them. Media has the power to alter how society thinks, yet the struggle for TRP (Television Rating Point) is eroding transparency and confidence in consistently receiving true news. News could once only be obtained from a few sources, such as radio, Doordarshan, etc. Even if there are more than 25 news channels available nowadays in various languages, it can be challenging to tell which ones are actually reporting the news. We have a variety of outlets available to us, including Twitter, social media, radio, television, and online publications. The media has failing to uphold journalistic principles. They are disregarding the accuracy of the news in favour of TRP.
Impact of media on democracy
The public's voice should be represented through the media. In contrast to the current situation, the media used to be extremely informed. The ethics of journalism are being violated by all the news networks as they compete with one another for viewers and money while lagging behind in TRP. The headlines concerning caste, religion, biased political parties, and reservations, which are causing social unrest and upsetting the peace and order in society, are all misleading and disillusioning. The Kathua rape case made headlines on every news outlet, but Madhya Pradesh too experienced a rape incidence that went unreported. Does the media have multiple stances on the same crime? The victim of the rape's faith was the cause of this. Discrimination based on religion is evident in this situation.
TRP or news: what is noteworthy?
The Indian media is merely manipulating the public's thoughts. Thus, four to five hot terms like "anti-Muslim," "anti-Nationalist," "Deshdrohi," etc., are frequently used in news headlines. The media shed crocodile tears over the Pulwama assault since it affected their TRP race, and as a result, TRP increased within 30 days without any specific news. Their editing becomes even worse; they make ludicrous headlines that are irrelevant. Major gaps that need to be filled include biased news, rather than serving as the voice of the people. It is a media voice, irrelevant TRP-seeking content, and attention-getting false headlines. Additionally, debate programmes on news channels are superior to comedic shows.
Media Trial and its problems
The Supreme Court explained in Zahira Habibullah Sheikh v. State of Gujarat that “a fair trial would undoubtedly entail a trial before an impartial judge, a fair prosecutor, and a peaceful judicial environment. A fair trial is one in which there is no bias or prejudice for or against the defendant, the witnesses, or the issue under trial." The Indian judicial system is able to provide justice to all of its residents who have been victimized in one manner or another. But how can every instance be brought to the courts' attention in a nation of 1.34 million people? In these circumstances, the media is crucial in bringing the numerous instances to the attention of the governing entities. Because the ordinary citizen may not always be able to file a PIL in court.
To re-interpret the contempt law with reference to publications of the cases made from the stage of filing a FIR in criminal cases may be subject to contempt responsibility, as was mentioned during the discussion of the contempt liability issue. Publications are protected from legal action for contempt of court by the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971. Any publication that interferes with, impedes, or attempts to impede a judicial proceeding in a civil or criminal action that is currently under way, however, constitutes contempt of court. This immunity was demonstrated in the 2013 murder of Aarushi Talwar, where the media have rendered a guilty or innocent verdict before the trial had even started. Prior to this form of publication, the media was immune. The legislature's interference, nevertheless, went unacknowledged.
When Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide as a result of the depression, he had due to the "nepotism in the industry", we could see the hypocrisy of the media at play. The victim's relatives found the news outlets' headlines to be heartbreakingly deplorable and disgusting. On social media, pictures of the victim's dead body were spread like rumours. The victim's family could be seen having microphones placed on their faces as media workers questioned them, "Aapka beta mar gaya, aapko kaisa lag raha hai." We could observe the artistic rendering of a suicide with the phrase "hare rang ke kapde se banaya fanda." When the situation called for sympathy for their family, all we saw were questions being directed at them. The headlines read "Bihar ka Sushant Mumbai mein fail Kyu" and "Kyu massive Sushant struck wicket." By raising public knowledge of depression, the problem might be resolved much more effectively. In a place like India, it is acceptable to discuss beliefs and black magic that aren't even supported by science, but discussing mental health is a joke. The majority of well-known meme websites and YouTubers took advantage of Sushant's situation to boost their notoriety. People were urging a boycott of star kids' movies rather than the idea of boycotting movies with offensive content. They are unaware that there are still a lot of other dedicated people in the same film. Instead, these concepts increase their popularity.
As soon as Rhea Chakraborty became involved in the case, the media became a daily soap opera. It makes sense why they were so eager to examine and consider the case's black magic angle. There were titles like "Sushant par rhea ka kaala jadoo," "Dil diya jaan Le," and others that seemed like the opinions of obnoxious unemployed people. Even as Rhea Chakraborty was being questioned, we could witness media persons invading her privacy by placing microphones all over her body. After NCB became involved in the case, we witnessed a new side of the media. In addition to the real interviews and information, we could also observe terrible rumours spreading on social media.
The question of whether a journalist can be charged with contempt of court for his or her biased articles remains, regardless of the nature of the judgement. Should lawmakers implement strict media rules that balance press freedom with the law, the power of the media would appear to be limitless. All we could do as an audience is spread the word about information that is entirely accurate. Aside from this, our own mind is the largest organ we have with us. The opinions of the audience should never be influenced by these repulsive and negative lines. We should also have the ability to distinguish between reliable information and rumours.
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