Question: India’s position in Press Freedom Index has deteriorated over the past few years raising questions on democratic values. What can be the measures to revive role of the press in democratic process?
Answer: The value of press and its work is decaying fast mainly due to emergence of social media and also failure of press to hold its non-partisan position. The responsibility of reviving importance of press has to come from all the stakeholders and each one has to fulfil their roles.
Role of government
- Reduce interference
Governments has always tried to influence the press in one way or the other. This includes passing information or getting a favourable opinion on their policies. Until and unless government reduces its influence, press cannot function freely.
- Neutral policy
Biased treatment of press has been actively done over the years so that some sections are favourable towards government. The adversaries are treated badly when it comes to giving privileges. By keeping a neural position on press, government can allow them to function efficiently.
Role of press
- Avoid peddling fake news
The major reason for government interference is that press has been guilty of spreading fake and unverified news that has serious implications on peace and security of the country. This gives the government reason to interfere. Press should be mature enough to verify the news before publishing it.
- Avoid polarisation and propaganda
It is nota secret that certain sections of press are involved in propaganda which is both political as well as communal. This can create polarisation among the citizens, forcing the government to interfere. By avoiding propaganda and sensitive issues, press can still perform their duties efficiently.
Role of citizens
- Knowing limitations of freedom of speech
Citizens are also part of press as they also actively participate in influencing public opinion and sharing news. To keep their role intact, they must focus on defining boundaries within which they can operate. Their actions must not violate rights of others.
Thus, keeping freedom and integrity of press is not the duty of only the government. Press and citizens are also equally responsible for keeping the legitimacy of press intact.