Gatekeepers or Cheerleaders?       

The threat to sacrosanctity of media is a matter of concern not only for us but for generations to come

Rashid ul Khair 

PRESS freedom in India is being endlessly compromised by the ever developing nexus among legislators and degenerate distributers. In the age of digitalization, journalists are constrained either to toe the government's line or face consequences. Lion’s share of news media is by all accounts willfully diverting the majority from what ought to be really shown. This is writ large in the coverage given to topics that are sensational rather than issues that are pressing and more sensitive.

India is home to one of the greatest and fastest growing media industry on the planet. However, Media here is far from being fair. A nation with a populace of more than 138 crores, is being ceaselessly indoctrinated by an assortment of biased news sources. India, which has a ground breaking and powerful electronic media with solid homegrown viewership is enabling a detrimental venture between corporate players, government and electronic media. Broadcast media, in particular, is creating news out of nonsense. While instances of media bias are nothing new, it has now stretched far beyond the tolerable limits.

One of the graces of a democratic system is the freedom of expression and the space that is provided to disagreement. It has four pillars: Judiciary, Legislature, Executive and Media. The former three keep up an arrangement of balanced governance while as the media guarantees straightforwardness in each of the three frameworks. It makes us aware of different social, monetary and policy centered issues that encompass us. As the backbone of democracy, media plays a vital function in molding it solid. Humans crave information, which is why they rely heavily upon media. The African-American Muslim minister and Human Rights activist, Malcolm X once said that, “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power, because they control the minds of the masses”.

The deteriorating state of Journalism in India can also be seen as an outcome of increased surveillance and censorship. World Press Freedom Index positions India at 138th out of 180. Media intimidation is surely a reality, however, it is a danger confronted generally by correspondents situated in smaller towns where a murder of journalist barely manages to draw wider attention on the issue.

Currently under Governor’s rule, the New Media Policy was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir. Avinash Kumar, Amnesty International’s Executive Director for India, in an article published by Amnesty International in April said, “Harassment and intimidation of journalists through draconian laws such as UAPA threatens the efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and creates an atmosphere of fear and reprisal. In Kashmir, this has been compounded through the general lockdown, prolonged restrictions on internet speed and arbitrary detentions often without any kind of documentation, access to lawyers and recourse to justice. This severely undermines the human rights guarantees of the people of Kashmir and denies the people in India and around the world the right to know”

A few cases that are not even pertinent to the overall population get a great deal of consideration while issues like joblessness, financial log jam, increase in covid-19 cases get merely one show a month. The content in TV news media specifically is driven by an inclination to place sensation above sense in the quest for appraisals. The race for higher TRPs has made news media a mock epic.

Advancement is inescapable in any industry, with media being no exception. However, the purpose of evolution should not bypass a collective cause. India has numerous difficult issues that require consideration like destitution, defilement, poverty, crime rate and so on. Power of media with the help of citizens can be a danger to any individual or organization that carries obstruction to any nation's development.

The threat to sacrosanctity of media is a matter of concern not only for us but for generations to come because the hogwash by contemporary media will eventually affect the next generation.

  • The author is a freelance journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir

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