CREDIBILITY AT STAKE…?

Editorial GREATER JAMMU

The fourth pillar of democracy is expected to remain strictly committed to the duty of protecting public interests at all cost. Unfortunately it is an irony of this nation that today it seems the foremost ethical duty of media has taken back seat giving way to achieve highest TRPs with media houses abdicating the main role least bothering about the serious repercussions it could have on the future of the society and the nation. It is pertinent to mention here that Indian Media developed in a very healthy manner during the post independence era and continued the same way for a couple of decades after which it became much powerful. However, it is an irony that after attaining unprecedented heights, some black-sheep tarnished the image of this strongest establishment so much so that today it has been inviting ridicule for promoting the menace of paid news especially after the ingress of corporatization in this sector. Once fingers were raised against it even by the Parliamentarians alleging that awards instituted by the media houses nowadays to honour industrialists, professionals and different personalities were yet another form of paid news endeavour. This allegation came despite the fact that it is mainly the political class that has been overtly or covertly promoting paid news during the recent decades. It would not be wrong to state that all political parties unanimously engage in the trend of paid news and hence nobody wants to stop it. It can hardly be denied that despite multiple accusations against it, Media continues to be the strongest and significant source to reach out to the people thus making its credibility very high in the present day world. At the same time it needs to be acknowledged that paid news is a very complex problem with accusations against a section of the corporate media having created a structural imperative towards such corrupt practices in which promise potential and actual monetary gains are substantial and that too at negligible costs. Though profit-maximizing entities will act to increase returns rather than look at social externalities yet mass media cannot be expected to adopt such corporate norms, as this clearly conveys a signal that it is willing to diminish or even abrogate its role as a protector of public interest and enforcer of accountability, thus having the maximum tendency of being most disastrous for democracy. The paid news problem as it appears today is the result of a strong nexus between the lawmakers and politicians cutting across party lines and even some Parliamentarians continue to bring this vital issue in the public domain. Moreover, some sections of the country’s mass media have also been highlighting this corrupt phenomenon continuously. Currently there is greater awareness among the nation’s citizenry too about the inherent dangers of paid news that poses greatest threat to Indian democracy. As such it is hoped that the government as well as other stakeholders especially the media pay serious heed to the issue and initiate strong proactive result oriented measures to successfully combat this pernicious practice. After all the primary role and duty of the media is to protect public interests at all cost.