Muskan Madaan pursuing B.com, LL.B. (Hons.) from Panjab University.
Media Sacrificing Ethics at the Altar of Profits: A Socio Legal Study
It has been rightly pointed out that he, who controls the media, controls the mind of the public. To view it on a technical angle, media houses play a very essential part in any democracy to form or even affect public opinion. Even if we look at the history dating back to the era independence it was the activism of different form of information circulation mechanisms through the mediums of newspapers, articles, pamphlets etc that gave a sense of integrity and unity was initiated among the public. Talking about that modern era that we are in, the horizons of our freedom have widened much more extensively and the political activism in the country seems to be at its peak. At this point it is very crucial for the mainstream media that to play its role efficiently so as to meet the goals of media ethics which will further cater to the rights of the citizens as well. There certainly has been a trend recently where the task of bring a neutral body or even a sophisticated body for that matter has completely been sidelined. Reporting has been converted into a TRP oriented race which is directly relevant to the profits these media houses make. With such malice goals and inclinations there are a lot of such practices which are done by the journalist and reporters which can easily break the norms of media ethics, with which not only the right of the concerned person get violated but also the public gets a tampered impression leading to partial opinions. In view of recent events as well, it would be correct to say that a lot of times the reporting is done in a way that it becomes no less than a political propaganda. Under such circumstances where the political aggression by the parties is already high the media is just doing the job to adding cherry to the cake in triggering the public upon sensitive issues. This practice a lot of times might encourage public outrage and violence which could have been easily avoided. The focus should be expressing different stories of societies and voice the opinion of the public, while right now it seems that the motives swiftly changed into materialistic ones to which the only victim is the general public.
Socio Legal Analysis
Upon analysing it on a wider perspective with a more practical approach we may see that the media is being manipulative in such a strategic way that the rather than helping people in deciding as to what is right or wrong they are becoming a guiding force for hatred within the public. Any media organisation in a democratic country is expected to work in a way where the right of speech and expression is duly practiced without any restrictions while also ensuring the fact that the basic rights of the citizens which in this case include the right to life and privacy are not hampered in any way. There can be cases where it can be difficult to maintain a perfect blend of all these right but if we look at the situation as of now, it seems as if the media houses have completely disregarded the fundamental rights of the people and are ready to cross any limits in the name of speech and expression. This not only makes a mockery out of the very essence of the media but also destroys the dignity and respect which any person deserves in a democratic country be it any sort of victim, accused, absconder or even a criminal or a terrorist. A major part of this attitude seems to be have erupted from the fact that these media houses seem to be in some sort of rat race where the news delivered should be “sensational” rather than being “sensible”. The prime time of these channels or even online media as the matter of fact comes with the prime agenda of being as suppressive and aggressive as they can be. If we get to explore the commercial angle of this situation we may also see that a lot of this is done in the hound of TRP’s- Telivision rating point. TRP is nothing but a data insight index which denotes the viewership of any specified channel. The factors usually include the viewership time, the amount of audience that the channel has. This concept in return is used by the advertisement companies to target specified channels to offer them their advertising deals which is funded by different brands. In return of this advertidsing service huge aount of revenue can be extracted by the media houses leading them into substancial profits. It is the greed f money which forces these channels to ake their news as sensationtional or controversial as possible which make attract the public eye. Amid this murder of ethical journalism there have been a lot of instances whre exprmely defamatory statements have been passed against the people while breaching their right to privacy at the same time. It is at the momemts like these that principals of ideal journalism are destroyed and the violation of peoples right is seen to be justified in the name of right to freedom. If we focus upon the present era there seems to be a wave of fake news which often hinders the real fact check amongst the general public. This too, is done so that more and more triggereing news can be generated in order to attract the public. If we may view in an elaborate format we may see that there are certain basic parameters attached to ethical journalism. The very foremost being, it adhering to the rules of law and not indulging in any such act which may go beyond their legal powers. Taking a very recent incident as an example the chaotic circus which the media put out in front of the general public amid the ongoing investigation of the the Sushant Singh Rajput case very much shows the interest of the mainstream media as to how much they care about the dignity and right of privacy of person. The havoc not only violated the rights of the people involved but also instigated the public to generate a wave of hatred towards the people involved, which from a technical view point is not correct since the investigation is still procedure and no final verdict has come into the picture. Not to mention the metal harassment it would have caused to the people involved. Furthermore these kinds of waves are what lead to the infamous media trials within the public. The irrational self made public opinions which are not always well informed is what hampers the public opinion at large and a lot of times even hampers the investigation process. The viral scenes of reporters chasing Deepika’s car are a proof as to how much they are ready to respect the person and as to how eager they are to abide by the laws as well. As following a vehicle aggressively while some top investigative authorities are amid their investigation procedure is not something which is expected out of these media houses.
There is no denial in the fact that media surely plays an important role important role in making the public aware about the whereabouts of the issue happening in the society which in a lot of cases does lead to speedy justice or some kind of substantial change. But looking towards the ethics on the parameters of truth, law, manipulation it becomes important for the media to adhere to certain ethical norms of their profession. Recently a TRP scandal which came into the limelight clearly acts as an example as to how much rigged the media has become in the hunger of attention. Adding to this character assassination of each and every person associated with any case is practiced in such an open manner that there is no regard paid the defamation rules. It is a high time for the media to realise that the main task if the media as well as the press is not shape people’s opinion. This task is a crucial aspect of democracy and by no means it can be practiced by sacrificing the very ethic of journalism. As with this sacrifice they not only do an injustice to their own profession but also make a mockery out of the judicial procedure and guidelines of the country since such behaviour by big media houses not only increases the public outrage but also gives out a wrong perception towards things.
Critical analysis and Conclusion
As we have already realised as on what stage and phase our media currently lies. Recently even the judiciary has also expressed its concerns about the ongoing practices taken over by the media. In the opinions of the judiciary even after the presence of media councils who do have a set pre decided code of conduct for journalism, still continuous breach of conduct seems to be happening. In such a situation where the media fails to recognise the prestige of its role in the society, the issue undoubtedly calls for a reform. There are number of suggestions made by different experts for the same. One of those ways can be to have a provision to initiate a public enquiry into the media practices. A number of other democratic countries already have this provision under the explanation that since the media practically works for the public so it is completely justified if they get scrutinised for their deeds under the public eye. This will not only ensure transparency but also ensure a balance of check in reference to the practices adopted by the media houses. As per the experts, this will also help in examining the relationship of media with the other bodies of democracy like politicians, judiciary. Executive etc. Some policy makers are also of the opinion that press council of India should be replaced with a much more reformed and refined body. As per the suggestions they can have a universal code of conduct for journalism and adding to this there should be separate wings for each kind of media so that proper governance can be there. Such segregation would not only help in proper working but would make the press council into a much regulated body because as of now there is not much clear picture regarding wing specified guidelines. There should also be compulsory mandate where the editors and head journalists should be required to declare their assets. The goal behind this step would be to ensure that no bribing or financial malpractices are involved under the table. This would further stop the spread of party specific propaganda while meeting the principles of democracy. Now that we have analysed the issue from various perspectives, it is safe to assume that the current scenario within the country, the stance of the media certainly calls for a change. Its not only important for the sake of quality reporting but also to meet the basic dignity of the people as well as the corporations which are being reported on. We shall not forget that although the freedom of speech and expression is one of the core essences of our democracy but there is certainly a need to acknowledge the fact that rights of the people would always be on a higher pedestal. Wrongful, tampered, fake or partial reporting is just not the way to go about things in a longer run. There can be no two opinions regarding the fact that media houses are not profit oriented corporate houses which can sideline the basic ethical conscious and respect for the rights of the people. Thus so as to maintain the credibility of the media and dignity of the citizens it’s high time that some sort of the reforms are bought into the system. As these will not only bring in a flare of positive ethical working of journalism into the system but also drive the capacity of justice, equity and conscious of the country to greater heights.