World Press Freedom Day
FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA
The two entities involved here are FREEDOM and MEDIA.
So, at the outset we must clearly define and be definite about what is Freedom?
And what is Media?
“Freedom is a condition of mind, and the best way to secure it is to breed it" says Elbert Hubbard, the same author further elaborates “freedom is the supreme good-freedom from self-imposed limitation". This I feel is a very fair and acceptable definition of freedom in any context, for, most often freedom is hampered because of self –imposed limitations. Now having defined freedom we must proceed to define press.
What is media? Or what is its role or function?
Media gives news, information, views etc.
But what type of news, information, views it gives?
What factors determine or what forces determine the type of news and information it must give?
What/Who controls the media?
Who actually runs the media?
The answers to all these questions are too obvious.
It is controlled mostly by politicians, businessmen, and the other popular, powerful and influential personalities like the film stars, lobbies, mafias etc., but the execution of the ultimate output is done by the journalists-those pseudo-intellectuals.
In the final analysis the factors that determine the type of news and information are the wishes and wants of every one of us.
From the businessman's point of view the aim is only the sales. He is least bothered about dealing with veracity or value of anything but is interested in providing what is appealing to the public at large. So, if the standard of media is poor.
Does that only reflect the mind of the majority of the public, because they want it that way?
Or is it that the media as mass opinion molders ensure, through the famous technique of Goebbels, through repeating constantly, lies, mould the public craving and taste which are reflected in TRP ratings and then the revenue?
Are they in a way also deciding what the public must view, read and relish and pay for?
Are both the public and media struck in a vicious circle?
But unfortunately, like the proverbial ‘ultimately justice will be established sooner or later’, nowadays, thanks to the internet, the minority who can see through this fraud remind the world of politicians very often the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” They also gather momentum and slowly but surely spread the truth.
At least politicians in India must know that the very reason for the development of two of the world’s leading economic powers China and India are its educated youth who are getting interested in the economic development of the country because that is what is going to ensure their prosperity and a good future for their children.
So, they would settle for facts, truth and sense than sensationalism and scandals on which the media thrives.
From the politician's point of view he can easily play on the emotions of the public [especially those, who are not educated, who are not even academically qualified, and who are too fanatical about or attached to particular set of ideology or belief] with sensationalism, scheming and scandals.
But the media must realize it is mostly the educated youth who are going to react and act on news and they are mostly well connected on the net globally.
So, media would be better advised to change their business trend of playing to the tastes of political parties or corporate houses that actually pay for and manipulate the media.
Ultimately truth and quality win over everything else and double standards and dubious dealings always get exposed even if they do not get the deserving punishment.
All good and matured journalists must realize that journalism is neither mere bread winning profession nor an occupation born out of innate involvement to do the things as dictated by their bosses and as demanded by the masses.
This unfortunate syndrome can no more assure survival for the journalists in modern days nor they can continue to classify news in the two categories:-
1. Either find some scandal in every situation, and/or
2. Scandalize every situation.
The media may enjoy great freedom in a democratic and developed society but as Andre GIDE writes, "to know how to free oneself is nothing, the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom". This is exactly the problem with most media.
If the media were given total freedom overnight still it would continue to give only similar news and views as it had been giving all these years.
Unless we realize what is our freedom? Rather in other words realize our responsibilities we can neither have nor appreciate freedom elsewhere.
As Nietzche said, "Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves".
First media people must feel responsible to their own self, their mother land, to the values in the interest of human race as a whole. Then, seek to see and scan the facts, and after that, report them even if they are not sensational or scandalous or sponsored.
As discerning public we too must know our responsibilities and ensure a media full of freedom, sense, wisdom, variety and value.
If we are committed to ourselves, our families, our society etc, then we would have a media that is committed to the real values that we cherish. In fact, this aspect of the quality and importance of the news, as reflecting the interrelatedness and intimacy of the press and public has been very well indicated in the writings of Janes Beston who said, “If it is far away, it is news, but if it is close at home, it is sociology ".
If this aspect is realized and if we mend ourselves then the press would cease to be what Brooks Atkinson said, "The evil that men do lives on the front pages of the greedy newspapers, but the good is oft interred apathetically inside".
In fact, good deeds and good things are often totally ignored for want of newsworthiness.
Once this realization dawns, the media would become an important tool to improve the public (as all mass communications ought to become).
With the enormous power and accessibility it is mandatory that the media plays an important role in ameliorating the life of the public.
In this context the press in particular, and, of course, all other means of mass communication must follow as their professional motto the words of Marya Mannea " It is not enough to show people how to live better; there is a mandate for any group with enormous powers of communication to show people how to be better ". Of course, even this can be done only where the people want to become and be better.
So a free and sensible media can exist only where the public is also vigilant, sensible and sensitive and must try to know why all of a sudden certain things change drastically be it stock market boom, overseas funding making NGOs grow big, sudden surge in real estate rates etc.
Try to find out why sudden changes? Question them? Probe them?
After all as our health is not the business of doctor it is our primary interest first?
Similarly our nation and its development must be our concern primarily. We cannot sit passively and consume media lies, political loots, bureaucratic corruptions, corporate cancers, lobbying mafias etc.
Let us all put aside all our indifference and get involved to save all varied cultures, educate the masses and always work for the benefit of human race as whole, promote our national interests, protect our family values, perfect our personal integrity etc and boycott those media houses be they in print or audio visual that hide the truth and propagate lies and promote selected individuals without any past records or credentials.
Unfortunately in most parts of the world, media suffers from selective amnesia and the public from collective indifference and both create an unholy marriage whose off springs will be anti development, anti social and inhumane creatures.
So, we the people as each individual alone can and must ensure a real free media and let us resolve on this day to promote freedom of the press that way.