Media: Still A Mouthpiece For Free Speech? | Eshant Singh – Critiqué – Submission #5
Communiqué is the annual media conclave organized by IlluminatiX- The Media and PR cell of XUB that seeks to deliver a platform for quality discussions on emerging trends and issues plaguing the media industry. The theme for this year was, ‘Media: Still a Mouthpiece for Free Speech?’ Communiqué is preluded by Critiqué which is an article writing competition organized by IlluminatiX, through which students from various colleges all over India get an opportunity to share their opinions on the theme. On the basis of creativity, content, and relevance eight students were selected this year to be the best submissions.
“A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad”- Albert Camus.
People’s desire for hard news, facts on which they can make decisions, has long intertwined with their desire for softer news, news designed to reinforce their beliefs, news of heroes, gossip and even fictions that suit their existing prejudices. Mass Communication in its earliest form was not yet true journalism—the messages were more often official pronouncements rather than unbiased and accurate reports—but journalism developed and changed with technology. This was as true thousands of years ago, as it is today.
From the invention of first water-run paper mill in the year 1282, the printing of first English newspaper in Holland, to avoid the strict control held by the English government over the press in the year 1620, Press and Media has always been tried to be put under strict supervision and control but it always broke the barriers to come out in open.
In the early 20th century, Journalism took a huge leap in the form of BBC, NBC, and CBC broadcasting corporations and as technology progressed so did media journalism from radio to TV and presently on social media.
John Milton once said: “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
Media is seen as the provider of facts, the true picture of a story which also works as the mouthpiece for people of the state. The reason being, the free press – now including all news media – is essential to the functioning of capitalist democracy. Without it, citizens have no means of exercising the powers of accountability of the state. They would be robbed of the information necessary to make political and economic decisions, and of knowing what others in society, outside their immediate circle, were doing.
Freedom of the press is a double-edged sword; on one side it can be the most powerful tool to empower people and hold the government accountable, while on the other hand, it can be a tool for malicious use by people controlling it.
There are laws to protect the freedom of press’s speech, but none are worthy of protecting the people from the press. Therefore, the scrutiny of what is being served on channels like print media, radio, TVs and on social media has become important in today’s world.
This fear of media gaining absolute power has led to censorship in the name of national security and countering extremism, demands for protection against offensive speech and misinformation, as well as unprecedented surveillance and collection of our data.
On one side a section of media does, what it is expected to do in the truest sense of journalism, by exposing and reporting on serious issues like Panama Papers scandal, Cambridge Analytica data scandal, to name a few whiles, on the other hand, some section of media has become a paid tool to propagate biases and pre-defined propaganda.
The fear of imprisonment and increased likelihood of getting attacked has further pushed back the idea of unbiased media reporting with hard cold facts.
In the current scenario, with the advent of the digital revolution and instant news demand-supply, this division has further widened, and it has become more obvious to the public. Social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter have proved their worth as channels of communication but like every technology, these platforms have also been abused alike.
These days the mainstream media journalists are peers of elected and appointed officials and neither is bound to the principles of democracy, the public, or the public good. Terms like Fake News, liberal media, have been coined to call out biased/paid to report. In many instances’ media has been attacked with these terms because their report doesn’t match with people’s idea of what should be reported. Mainstream media are no longer covering politics because politics and mainstream media have joined together to be sidekicks in the ever-expanding reality TV monstrosity, that is enveloping our would-be democracy. Any news reported these days should always be taken with a grain of salt and verified before taking actions or forming perceptions.
Awareness is the key to fight false information. Here are a few helpful tips that will help you decide verified news from fake information:
● A new feature recently rolled out by WhatsApp, allows you to see which messages have been forwarded. Determining who wrote the original message can be helpful in verifying facts.
● Learn to question information that makes you angry or afraid.
● Information that seems unbelievable, all it takes is to smartly utilize Google to verify any information that seems hard to believe.
● Spelling and grammar mistakes are common in fake news or messages containing hoaxes.
●Always check if the story is being reported on other news websites or apps. Information is more likely to be true when it is reported in multiple places.
●If you are concerned or unsure about the source of information you are sharing, think twice before doing so.
●Fake news often goes viral, so do not pay attention to the number of times you receive a message.
With the turmoil going on between politics and media, a free press is fundamental to a democratic society. It seeks out and circulates news, information, ideas, comments, opinions and holds those in authority to account. The press provides the platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard. At the national, regional and local level, it is the public’s watchdog, activist, and guardian as well as educator, entertainer and contemporary chronicler.
– Eshant Singh
PGDM (1st year)
FORE School of Management
Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflects the views of the University or its students. Comments made on this platform are the sole responsibility of the writer and the writer will take full responsibility and liability for the same.