MEDIA: How Watchdog is becoming a Pet dog of money and TRP.
The author is Bhanu Pratap Samantaray, 2nd Year Student at National Law University, Odisha.
There are four main pillars of democracy: the judiciary, the legislature, the executive, and the media. Thus media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy. In any country, the media plays a vital and competitive role and is considered to be the most powerful force on earth, ensuring accountability. By serving as a bridge between individuals and the state, the media serves as the protector of the public interest. Ultimately, all information about the state is transmitted to individuals via the media.
The goal of the media is to inform the public of all the events that take place around the world, i.e., matters of national and international interest. In equal, precise, unbiased, and decent manner and language, they represent the citizens with ideas and knowledge of all representatives of public interest.
But there are still two sides to the coins, as we all know, i.e., the media may either raise the nation to heights or trigger a state of disorganization. As mentioned by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the English journalist, who also served as a Whig Member of Parliament, the media has a very important position:
Beneath the rule of men entirely great, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’
What we see today on news channels is that it does not pursue the actual news but rather focuses on stuff that, regardless of journalistic ethics, can produce TRP. Now the media, perceived as the watchdog, has become a dog waiting for the bone. The biggest example of this today is that the main and only focus of the media is on the Sushant Singh Rajput case. The other problems are sidelined and overlooked, such as pandemics, health care, Assam floods, conflicts between India and China, border wars, etc.
Many national news channels have dedicated much of their time to covering the controversies surrounding the tragic death of the upcoming star, Sushant Singh Rajput. However, it is done in two formats:
- They aim to provide their reporters with comprehensive coverage of the case through reports of the latest developments in the event that they are gleaned from their sources.
- They invite guests connected to this and other similar cases as experts and examine these developments.
It is for certain that all of these experiments are based on inaccurate data and are only taking shots in the dark. We can see in the case of Sushant Singh Rajput that the media itself has become the investigating officer and the judge, breaching the due process of law. Both of these questions pose different issues, which are as follows:
DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA:
Due process is the course of legal action under the laws and guidelines set down for the defence of private property. It is very well-founded in the thirty-ninth article of the Magna Carta that no freeman shall be seized, or imprisoned, or dissolved, or exiled, or killed in any manner whatsoever, except by his peers’ lawful judgement or by the law of the land.
An individual accused of any crime shall only be punished after the proper investigation has been completed, as per the due process of law, but what we see in the media is becoming the investigating officer as well as the judge itself. We have seen, for example, in the case of Sushant Singh Rajput, that a few news channels show and accuse Rhea Chakraborty of performing ‘Black Magic’ on Sushant. Not only that, but the media also calls on eminent speakers to discuss ‘gold digger’ or ‘scapegoat’ on subjects such as Rhea.
To display mostly unverified specifics of the event, networks compete with each other. Whatsapp messages, telephone records, and video recordings are typically a great detail of the data they collect. And even in that WhatsApp messages contradict what in other messages is being stated. These details provide very little evidence of reliability.
The media also shows and says that the CBI (Crime Bureau of Investigation) and ED (Enforcement Director) are getting data from them. On this question, an investigation must take place as to how they are getting such sensitive information from India’s leading investigative agencies. It is important that the authorities check whether such statements are valid. And if they are proven to be incorrect, legal action against the offending outlets must be taken. If the allegations are valid, however, it is a matter of serious concern because it might raise doubts about the credibility of India’s lead investigation agencies because it violates their service laws.
PRIVACY AND REPUTATION:
We constantly see today’s media violating the right of individuals to privacy, which cannot be considered ethical. In this case of Sushant Singh Rajput, we have seen media covering the father of Sushant in his house asking him about the death of the next actor asking him that, ‘How does he feel that his son has passed away?’
Republic TV zooming into the living room of Rhea Chakraborty from outside the building is another recent incident that came to light. Such cases clearly illustrate that the media is breaching the right of the perpetrator and the victim to privacy. By seeing it as their freedom of speech and liberty, they go to every degree possible.
The credibility of the accuser, Rhea Chakraborty, is obviously being hurt by such media actions. If, in any event, the media will apologise in the future if it were known that Rhea was not the culprit, but what about the credibility and the pain that the accused are going through this time?
REAL ISSUES SIDELINED:
The biggest crime committed by these news channels is that they only screen the tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajput as a matter of national significance, and the other problems of national and international significance are overlooked, which diminishes the media’s main objective. Some of the problems that are not given sufficient significance and are sidelined are pandemics where cases are increasing exponentially, as well as other concerns such as the public health system, tensions in Indo-China, the plight of migrant workers suffering during this pandemic, severe military conflicts, border movements, etc.
The IndiaTv news reveals the prison manual showing that Rhea Chakraborty woke up at almost 6 a.m. on Friday and served poha and tea at breakfast. All of this indicates that the media known as the watchdog has now become the political and wealthy parties’ pet dog whose primary focus is on TRP and money. The greed for money has now led the media to abandon its true aim of being open, precise, decent, and unbiased in the reporting of news.
MANY EXAMPLES OF THESE ARE AVAILABLE, SOME OF WHICH ARE AS FOLLOWS:
- We all know about Haryana’s popular 2017 CM Manohar Lal Khattar controversy case, where one of the journalists had to resign from the Zee News Channel only because he questioned the CM about the consequences of demonetization, and it was not very well known to the CM.
- In 2018, Nirav Modi, a scamster who escaped with 11,400 Crore Rupees, was sidelined.
- Media covers more when actors such as Rishi Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, Irrfan Khan die, but even though a high-profile Colonel and a police officer along with four Army soldiers died in Kashmir on May 3, 2020, the death of the people who defend our nation is sidelined.
- Covid-19 frontline fighters such as Dr. Muffazal Lakdawada and Dr. Gautam Bhansal and their employees who handled people with coronavirus without charge and have not even returned home for five months are sidelined and overlooked by the news channels.
The foundations of every democracy have an eminent position that should be clear, precise, and impartial. As a media trial has the potential to build a sense of bias towards the accused, the media should not become the investigating officers or a judge by themselves. The media does not report decisions and should leave it to the court to decide. The media must remember their priorities and impartially present news of national and international significance and should not run on the government’s fingers and should not become the pet dogs behind TRP and money.
Today, the media is losing its reputation due to the compromising of values, the burying of reality, the destruction of morals, the choking of values.
There is still time for the media to enter its primary mission, i.e., to be the voice of the voiceless, the consciousness of the unconscious culture, and a light to illuminate the dark, grey, dingy spirit.
Instead of sidelining the important news, the media must sideline the divisive variables within the media, such as racial, ethnic, and political bias, so that its key aims are restored. The ethical standards of journalism are also strengthened, which can help to uplift the country. And because the media has the immense power to influence society at large and they play a huge role in creating and unmaking the government because of this influencing power, some code of ethics should be developed, and news should have checks and balances that must be strictly followed.
The article’s objective is not that the media should not concentrate on news relating to the Sushant Singh Rajput case, but that it should also give equal attention to the other subjects referred to in the article.
Disclaimer – The views expressed and information given in this article are solely of the author and do not represent in any way the views of or impose any liability on The Philomath, its employees or any other person or entity. We endeavor to maintain a quality check of the published articles but are in no way guaranteeing the accuracy of any information. Any legal opinion shared herein should not be used as an alternative to professional legal advice.