"The media have obligations to society, and media ownership is a public trust".
-Denis Mc Quail
Media are the trustees of the public belief in Democracy. They are the upholder of democratic rights, caretakers of the social principles and purveyors of just and balanced news. Media are the custodian of the public good against manipulation of office or power, either by government or by any other private body.
However, the media these days has become exceedingly reckless and is more interested in fulfilling its corporate interests. An example of this recklessness is the bird and swine flu epidemics. The media imprudently took a quote from a professor of medicine on the worst case scenario 'it could be a global pandemic' and stressed this point as if this was the unavoidable progression of the disease. In reality a small amount of population were affected by the diseases.
The way the news is reported forms and shapes public opinion. When the public's opinions are affected, the voting polls are too. When votes are affected, different public officials are elected. And these officials are the ones who make the laws and generally run the country.
Former president KR Narayanan in a speech in 1997 said that journalism, once a sincere vocation, had become "a ruthlessly competitive profit-making industry, including in all the tricks of the trade".
Media cannot evade its social accountability. It needs to play a productive and positive role and concentrate on issues related with vital aspects of society and detract themselves from the trivialities. The media needs to be more responsible.
Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan