Media plays an important role in a democracy. It has the capacity to create an informed opinion. It enlightens and empowers the people. Access to information is essential to the health of democracy for two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation.
Second, information serves as a check by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them. It is in providing this information that the media plays an important role. Using this information, the citizens can learn the functioning of the government through the media.
The media can further promote democracy by educating voters, protecting human rights, promoting tolerance among various social groups, and ensuring that governments are transparent and accountable. Therefore, it becomes necessary that the media provides a balanced report.
By a balanced report we mean that when a story is covered by the media, it should discuss all points of that story and should leave it up to the readers to form their own opinions. The media can present a balanced report to form their own opinions. The media can present a balanced report only when the media channel is independent. It should be under the control and influence of anybody in the coverage of its news.
In most democracies, laws have been enacted to give ample freedom to journalists and ordinary citizens to access information on government policies. In the activity given earlier, you might have seen that the same news event is covered differently in various newspapers.
It is possible that each newspaper presents a different angle of the same story. For instance, newspaper A says, Anna as a citizen is above parliament, however, Newspaper B says Anna is above parliament. Now both the news have altogether different meanings.
So, it seems from above that media is quite independent to choose the way they want to showcase a news story But, in reality, media is not that independent. Two reasons can be attributed for this-one is the control that the government on its part uses censorship to control the contents published by media. In Indian history also there have been times when the government censored the media.
In general, however, the government confines itself to the censorship of films. The media’s coverage of the news is not really censored by the government. Despite the absence of censorship the media sometimes fails to present a balanced story. This can be because it did not consider all the facts or it came under the influence of one dominant view.