Legislators, let news media do its job

Legislators, let news media do its job
Legislators in Karnataka are worried about the liberty the media takes in escalating news effect in the country. But freedom of expression,  enshrined in our Constitution, gives the right to voice our opinion and the government cannot forbid it unless it falls within the eight restrictions imposed on such a liberty.

Fair representation

Why should state legislators want to curb the rights of the media? Like in any other democracy, here too citizens make their choices, they vote for representatives, and those representatives become the voice of the people.

We do not choose the candidates who will contest the elections. Parties field people that they think are most likely to win, and the citizens cast their votes for or against the candidate. It is the media that introduces these candidates to the people. It also profiles them clearly, verifies their credentials.

From the time news media came into existence, people have chosen to listen to it. And people choose the news organisation or agency based on how well the organisation voices people’s concerns. The more vocal the organisation or agency, the more people like it.

Social responsibility

Newspapers, magazines and the electronic media are business concerns with social responsibilities. They generally do not write or air socially irresponsible material. When an error is made, an apology is quickly tendered and harmony is pleaded upon. Politicians should show the same social responsibility.

If today political and social analysts were to compare the lapses in social responsibility and decorum by the media as opposed to that by the politicians, the result will expose the politicians’ hypocrisy. Legislators must remember that their job is public service with social responsibilities and therefore, they must be under constant scrutiny.

Watch dog

The common man, however discerning, cannot individually point out a lapse by the elected representative or the government. Hence, the media is vested with that responsibility. They make it their business to keep abreast of the quality of governance and political occurrences and bring it to the notice of the larger public, governed by these elected representatives.

Once a candidate is elected to the legislative Assembly, there is no undoing that unless the party wants to. However corrupt he grows in his position as a legislator or minister, there is nothing the common man do.

It is the media that can throw light upon such cases and bring them to the knowledge of the people. The media watches over the common man as well as the government. So why should that function be regulated and diluted by legislation, when the media has by far been responsible in its work?

Democracy, or the rule of the people, does not end with the formation of a government by the elected representatives. In essence, democracy is citizens keeping their rights intact through the rule of law — something that is diminishing by the minute as politicians think of themselves to be above law. This is precisely why, the media cannot be stifled under any guise.

Wrong doings

The condition in which an Indian lives, as per the recent Human Development Index (HDI) and happiness quotient surveys, he or she does not have the wherewithal to find deficiencies in governance.

Again, here is where the media steps in and brings to the notice of the people the wrong doings of government officials as and when they happen.

The many scams and lack of proper investigation in certain criminal cases have all been exposed by the media as breaking news. This has created public awareness and has pushed the investigative agencies to be more robust in their probe.

The Constitution allows any Indian national to contest elections without a qualifying certification of capabilities of representing his constituency effectively. He is fielded because of popularity and not his expertise. Therefore, we need the media, which is a skilled enterprise to report the daily happenings in the country.

Given that India’s literacy rate, gross domestic product (GDP) and HDI are low, we need expert views on the way the country should be governed. We cannot take away the perceptive overview of a group that works for the larger interest of the country.

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