TRIAL BY MEDIA – A BENEFIT OR AN AFFLICTION
Role Of Media In A Democracy
In a country like India, with a population of over one billion, media plays an important role in making and molding public opinion and disseminating information to the people. Press is considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy. The significance of the press and the freedom of the press has contributed to the consistent growth of democracy. One thing that influences the mass daily is the uncensored news, fearless editorial criticism, and other daunting articles published in newspapers and other magazines. This uncut part also keeps a check on the governance of the country.
Media is considered the backbone of democracy, as it acts as a connection between the people and the government, and it keeps a check on government functioning.
Since media acts as a conveyer of information, the mass is more dependent on the media for every bit of facts and figures they provide. The press must pass on information that is accurate and has clarity. The main attributes for delivering information and facts by media should have accuracy in them. Accuracy is the basis of any news item.
Failure to report correct results is a loss of credibility. Another vital attribute would be balance and clarity. If a reporter is writing or reporting about a particular issue, he should portray both sides of the story equally. Media cannot be biased or put in their own opinions in any matter. The media should perform a critical role. They should make sure not to publish news that is inaccurate, misleading, or distorted. Whenever there is an inaccuracy or a piece of misleading information, let corrections be made promptly.
The Fourth Estate in India has doubtlessly become a force to reckon with. It plays a watchdog rather than the role of a gatekeeper, but if it becomes a decision-maker, that would be unfavorable and harmful at times. “The role of the press in a developing society should neither be of an adversary nor an ally”. The role of media in a democracy means the role of media towards the people. In that way, they have a massive responsibility towards society. The impact of mass media is an instrument of social change. It must uphold moral and ethical values in society and act responsibly, be impartial, and independent.
Is Trial By Media – A Benefit Or An Affliction To The Society?
Trial by media popularised in the early 21st century. This popularity is a new concept. It refers to media coverage over a person’s life by creating a perception of guilt or innocence before or after a verdict in a court is passed. It is also a situation where courtroom cases are tried by the media, in the newsrooms. It simply means that the media takes up a client in their hands and declares a decision on their own. In recent times, media has been taking up cases, conducted the trial of the accused person, and delivered the verdict on its own. The passing of the judgment is the job of the Justice system. The judiciary is the decision-making body, and hence the decreeing of the verdict depends totally upon the court.
The media should only report on facts and figures provided by the tribunal. They should act responsibly to report on facts and not create a spark of tension between the mass. There are social responsibilities of media and several ethics that they should abide by.
Trial by media plays a negative role in society. Media is always ‘news hungry’ in this era of breaking news and uncovered facts. This hunger is where media tends to use its freedom negatively.
Certain issues in the media are made to look a definite way to benefit a group of society. Since media holds such an integral and crucial posting in the country's functioning, it may use its power to manipulate decisions. We at a distance tend to believe in the news that we are shown. We are very much unaware of the reality. Trial by media, by no means. The Supreme Court in recent times said that the Judiciary and Media are two different bodies, and they have several functions to perform. Hence, their purpose should not overlap.
The media should work to provide the mass with the details of the proceedings and not passing a decision on its own. It should not indulge in the phenomena of declaring the accused as a convict.
The only positives that media trials can bring in are the speedy proceedings of the case. In many cases, media trials give an unfair portrayal of the accused and ruin many careers. This can be further explained by a recent example that is the – ‘Sushant Singh Rajput' case.
As stated by the ‘Hindu’ – The Bombay High Court said that media trials intervene with the administration of justice and could lead as an obstruction in the proceedings of the case. The High Court issued guidelines for various media houses to hold back any news item that could jeopardize the investigations. Several news channels tried their way of investigating leads for the case, which was not required. This act of the media houses could be a grave act of contempt of Court or Defamation. According to this law, the media houses cannot defame a person who is dead.
Media being the Fourth Estate should abide by the Laws of the Press. They should also work under the ethical standards of reporting. They should act responsibly and protect the nature of democracy. The media houses must be careful about the information they pass on as their data becomes our knowledge.
We, as viewers, tend to develop an opinion based on what we are presented. Hence, the reporters mustn't deviate from the authentic information or distort any facts and figures. Journalists have to safeguard the freedom of information and the freedom to access information sources. They should only focus on uplifting the society and aim at putting up a piece of news that will either induce some changes for the betterment of the people or help portray public grievances. A reporter should ways address the societal concerns that reflect public opinion.
Image credits : Canva
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