Media, the fourth pillar of democracy, has to play a very important and paramount role in a democracy. We all are aware of the paramount role which the media plays in the working of a healthy democracy, but sadly this pillar of democracy has seen recently a deep degradation in the professional ethics and standards in its profession.
In the chase of being the first in reporting the news, some media houses have forgot their social responsibility of reporting authentic news without any biases. This sensationalism of media and the decline in professional ethics is termed as “Yellow Journalism”. Today in order to increase their TRP’s media houses broadcast news items without any proper investigation and in an utter irresponsible manner. This irresponsible attitude of media is not concurrent with the functioning of a healthy democracy.
Today apart from these, there are many more ills which have crept down in our media and one of them is the practice of trial by media. According to our constitution and otherwise also being one of the “Principles of Natural Justice”, every accused is entitled to a fair trial and pronouncing judgments is the exclusive prerogative of the court of law but trial by media has seriously hampered the rights of an accused person. The “aura” which the media creates with its sensationalized reporting creates a kind of an atmosphere, as if the ‘accused” has already been “convicted”. The media has the full right of giving its view over any case like every other individual of the country but pronouncing judgments or commenting on the guilt or innocence of the accused is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of this country.
The media should be aware of its responsibility and act accordingly but the recent decade has seen a serious degradation in the ethics of the media. Today media houses are being charged of paid news, this is another evil which is harming our democracy, in the recent assembly elections of several states and also in the 2009 General elections we saw a great deal of cases of paid news. These evils if not nipped in the beginning may tend to make media lose its credibility. Thus, today there is a dire need to regulate the affairs of the media, not in an arbitrary manner but in a responsible and a rational manner which should stand the test of constitutionality and above all rationality. The need for the same was also “mooted” by the Chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju but sadly that “idea” never saw the light of the day. On its part, the media always vehemently opposes any such move to “regulate” its affairs on the pretext of “curbing freedom of speech”, the media fraternity while augmenting this argument fails to take into account that no right is unlimited every right is subject to “reasonable restrictions” and even article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution which gives every individual including the media the freedom of speech also restricts it on reasonable grounds under article 19(2) to (6).