Is Indian Media Fragile?

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25 Nov, 20 09:31
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-Ishika Shrimali

Is Indian Media Fragile?

2020 has been one of the most unexpected years for many people and the governmentsworldwide.Startingwith WorldWar3threatsinJanuary, Australian Bush Fires, the BlackLivesMatterMovement, a falling economy, helpless laborers, increased suicide rates. On top of all, the Covid19 pandemic has given many people a hard time accepting the events of this year. While many people lost their lives, and many are still vulnerable, wecannotforgetonethingfacinganunannouncedthreat,the suspected downfall of independent media. In a democratic country, such as India itself, the role of media and m a s s c o m m u n i c a ti o n s increases many folds. When themediatakesabiasedform, thetrustofthenation's citizens ultimately collapses. In such cases, the concept of media democracy takes birth. Press associations and modern social movements worldwide are rooting for independent representations, and make mediamoreaccountabletothe public they serve and create moredemocraticalternatives. Mediademocracy isajuvenile idea that is now receiving greater attention; it aims at a free and independent press and empowers all the society members by providing quality information about the current affairs and enhancing democratic values. It is a wellknownfactthatincreasedcorporate domination of mass media has resulted in a perceived shrinking of the ideas' marketplace. Corporate ownership and commercial pressuresinfluencemediacontent, sharply limiting the range of news and opinions. Also, the competitive structure of mass media has resulted in a shift of principle and is now taking a more anti-democratic turn. Stories that are covered are often sugar-coated-in an attempt to make them juicier toattractamoreextensivepublic, which has seriously hampered the ability to solve internal social problems and international conflicts inanoptimal way.Studies have proved that the increased tendency of media being used in politics toblurandconfuseboundaries between journalism, entertainment,public relations,and advertising has made quality informationlessapproachable andresultedindecreasedtrust of the citizens. When a media platform such as the news channels are being owned or being influenced by an influential (political or financial) external factor, there is a significant reduction in the number of voices and opinions communicated to the public, reduction in investigative reporting, and more emphasis on “entertainment” and profitabilityratherthanoninformative public discourse. With the advent of the World Wide Web, media is assumed to be more independent, resourceful, and awakening. It provides everyone with a "voice," a platform for people to express their concerns and opinions, and access a wide array of available information. However, it is not often used in the best wayandleads tounnecessary violent protests. Social networking sites have usually caused serious havoc and have been shut down to prevent further damages temporarily. A more in-depth look into the situation provides a simpleexampleof suchunrest onsocialmedia;themediaplatform's inability to give certain information without a biased opinion and in an accessible manner. Media freedom is deteriorating all over the world. Even in the most influential democracies,suchasIndiaitself,powerfulpoliticianshavetriedinnumerable times to confine the media from fact-based and honest reports. They have attempted to silence the criticalmediavoices.Thishasonly led to unrest among the citizens and is always seen as cynical. Over the past few years,thequalityofIndianjournalism has been on a declining road. In India, the largest democracy of the world, specific media platforms has suddenly become suspiciously flattering of thePrime Minister and his government, raising eyes all over the nation of a possible government shadow over the not-so-independent media. According to the research conducted by a French organization, Reporters Without Borders in their annual Press Freedom Index, in 2018, India ranked poorly at 138 out of the 180 countries. This situation has only worsened over time as, according to their report in April 2020, India’s rank droppedto142ofthe180countries surveyed. The report claimed that the government and the Prime Minister had tightened their grip over the media, eventually suffocating honest reporting.Although no reportersdiedin2019-20compared to 6 deaths in 2018, the Indianmedia'sdownfall isquite distressingasnowitisbecoming more apparent that external factors have a more substantial influence than ever. However, amidst all this chaos, there remains a little hope. Newspapers all over the country have taken it upon themselves to provide their readers with the best honest, fact-based report they can provide. A well-known newspaper in the country recently published an obituary stating, "theymournonthesaddemise ofmedia,daughteroftruthand freedom." Such a newspaper's witty response shows how some are still willing to step for the media's independence.

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