Op-ed

Media and Democracy

By Hamza Jaffry

Democracy has very vast meanings. It is defined as, Government of the people, by the people, for the people. People enjoy the freedom of speech and rights to exercise their life according to their wish. But these rights and duties which are the fundamentals of democracy are necessarily being conveyed to the all actors of the society. Every single of the society should have awareness about his or her rights and duties. Media play its important role in this regard.

The media is a social institution along with family, religion, government and even gender. Think of a social institution as something that is in place that shapes the way a majority of people think, behave and react to their environment.

Media fits this definition because regardless of whether you watch TV all day long or never do, media is inescapable. TV, radio, newspapers and even the internet are all media outlets. Through them we gather perceptions about different groups of people (other people and also people like ourselves), places and other ways of life. In fact, the media is a very influential social institution.

Media plays a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy. It is the backbone of a democracy. Media makes us aware of various social, political and economic activities happening around the world. It is like a mirror, which shows us or strives to show us the bare truth and harsh realities of life. The media has undoubtedly evolved and become more active over the years. It is the media only who reminds politicians about their unfulfilled promises at the time of elections.

The media also exposes gaps in the democratic system, which ultimately helps government in filling the vacuums of loopholes and making a system more accountable, responsive and citizen-friendly. A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels.

The media also exposes the loopholes in the democratic system, which ultimately helps the government to fill the vacuums of these loopholes and to make the system more accountable, responsive and citizen-friendly. A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels.

In the age of information technology we are often bombarded with information. We get the pulse of the world’s events with just a click of a mouse. The flow of information has increased manifolds. The perfect blend of technology and human resources (journalists) has not left a single stone unturned in unearthing the rampant corruption in politics and society. Thanks to technology, that has brought a kind of revolution to journalism.
The impact of media is really noteworthy. Excessive coverage or hype of sensitive news has led to communal riots at times. The illiterates are more prone to provocations than the literates. News repetition, especially sensational news, breeds apathy and insensitivity amongst the public. For instance, in Dato’ Seri Anwar’s case, the sodomy case was repeatedly shown on most of the T.V. news channels and has now been known globally just because of their repetitions. There is a plethora of such negative impacts. The media should take utmost care in airing or publishing such sensational news frequently.

Commercialisation has created stiff competition for the media. In order to outdo each other, print media has often gone one step further in publishing articles, cover stories, etc.
Media experts say that this is one of the means, which has cropped up swiftly in the recent past, to attract readers who are glued to T.V. news channels. They believe that this is a cheap form of journalism.

The function of mass media is to observe the society as watchdog, closely and continuously and warn about threatening actions. Likewise, mass media also informs about the misconducts happening in the society to the concerned authority and discourage malpractices among mass audience in the society. Warning or beware surveillance occurs when the media inform us about threats from depressed economic conditions, increasing inflation or military attack. It’s called now investigative journalism. The media can expose corruption and illegal activity. The Water-gate scandal is probably the best and greatest example of media exposing such corruption. There are very few cases in which media plays the role of lapdog. Such cases occur in developing or third world countries.

New Media supports democracy by bringing out the democratic norms and inculcating the same in the general public. Providing live coverage of parliament proceedings, activities of politicians, programs on democracies are few of the examples. It’s due to the effect that the world has become a global village and every country is going to be a democratic country.

 

About the author

Mian Bilal

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