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Essay on “Mass Media in a Democracy” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Mass Media in a Democracy

By “mass media” we mean TV, radio, newspapers, journals, periodicals, etc. Mass media are of utmost significance in a vast country like India which has got a democratic socio-political order. Though it is an era of audio-visual publicity with TV broadcast now covering over 95 per cent of our population, the role of newspapers and journals is still most effective in the formation of public opinions.

A government needs the logical formation or mobilization of public opinion for its survival. It lasts as long as it enjoys the support and favour of the people in whom the ultimate sovereignty and the powers of the State are vested. Hence, the government needs a multi-channel mass media for this purpose. Further, the sets of information about crops, elections, festivals and the nation in general are disseminated through TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting publishes a number of bulletins and journals in different languages to publicize the views of the government and enunciate its policies and programmes. Besides these official publications, government-sponsored and subsidized publications are also in circulation to put forth the views of the State and mobilize the masses on different issues of national importance. The manner in which news items appear in the newspapers, reflect the significance of the subject matter and it catches the attention of the public as well A the government.

The newspapers and periodicals, which are concerned with treatment and display of news items are called ‘Press’. The ‘National Press” includes all the largely circulated dailies, which publish news and views on all the burning topics, related to India or the world. The long list of such dailies includes

The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Statesman, The Indian Express, The Patriot, The Hindu, The Amrit Bazaar Patrika, The Pioneer, etc. The eveningers, being of local value in most of the cases, are not counted as the component of the ‘National Press’. They are treated as supplementary or of little value. Their volume is smaller and so is their coverage. They are important as the follow-ups and the late news are of much interest to many people. The government or the ruling party alone does not need media to propagate its views, policies and programmes amongst the masses. The same are also required by all the political parties for the same purpose. Otherwise, it is very difficult for them to survive. Further, social institutions and NGOs also need it to build their Images and make their presence felt by the people.

Mass media are also a source of information. Press releases, statements and announcements are published in local and national newspapers to make them known to the public, in general, for the targeted sections of the people, in particular. Besides the values and the purposes, which are served by the newspapers or the mass media, there are certain intrinsic values of newspapers or periodicals, which count for their own technical and creative standards in the public. These newspapers and journals fight for the rights of the masses. They spread information about scams and other evil-doings of the State.

The treatment which is accorded to a particular news item in a newspaper differs in terms of standards from one newspaper to the other. In newspapers of high standards, it is technically more sound and relevant than in the newspapers of lesser grades and standards. The comments of a standard newspaper about a news item, political event, disaster or an economic issue are very sharp and wholesome and they are appreciated by the government and the masses alike. The State governments and Government of India maintain permanent offices attached to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for collecting opinions of respective newspapers connected with vital national and international issues. Such honest and unbiased views of the Fourth Estate affect the government policy and programmes.

The points raised by the newspapers in their editorial and other elite columns are followed by clarifications of the concerned minster or the spokesman of the ministry concerned. The questions based on comments and queries of the newspapers are raised in the Parliament and State Assemblies.

In the context of Information Technology revolution, mass media are of great value for spreading information and also for mobilizing public opinion. They play active roles in a democratic country.

Guided by this motive, the government adopts positive attitude towards newspapers and periodicals and reviews its policy towards them from time to time. Since newspaper industry has a gargantuan size in terms of operations, it has been divided into big, medium and small categories.

The small and medium newspapers, though not operating on such sound footings as the big newspapers, are closely linked with the masses. Hence, they play an important role by reflecting public views. The government periodically announces its publicity policy; moreover upward revision in advertisement tariffs is made for the benefit of medium and small newspapers. There has always been a concern in the departments and ministries of the State for the betterment of employees of mass media, especially those of the organized sector.

Wage boards/tribunals are appointed from time to time to study the issue and send recommendations to the government. Press Council is constituted to look into the matters connected with the newspapers. It plays an intermediary role between the mass media and the State. Though their nature is advisory, their role is very important for the growth of a healthy national Press, which is a prerequisite for smooth functioning in a democratic nation. When we speak of the freedom of the Press in this context, it means the healthy freedom and not the morbid one.

The question arises—whether the Indian Press really enjoys freedom of expression? It is true that some professionally committed editors like Arun Shourie and Bhure Lal became active to uphold the sanctity of press for which they had to pay heavy prices, for example, they were sacked for adopting such an approach which was not in accordance with the policy of the newspaper, but it is still felt that by and large, newspapers have to toe the lines of their proprietors. Thus, the Press may project the policies of the ruling party in a progressive or a detrimental perspective as would be chosen by their owners. In this manner, newspapers are tendentious. But this is not always the case. Some newspapers are very sincere in their reporting and coverage and expose blunders committed by the State. A few years ago, when the government in Bihar clamped censorship of anti-government (anti-police and anti-bureaucracy) news, the Indian Press responded by sympathetic protests and strikes. There were repercussions in the foreign Press too and the censorship had to be withdrawn under the Bihar Press Bill. Further, the Tehelka.com tapes rocked the defence establishment, bureaucracy and the government. Some people, who posed themselves as the sellers of a London based firm (West end International) and tried to ‘sell’ military equipment to the defence forces. The sleaze and immorality of the ruling coalition and kickbacks in defence dealings were revealed due to daring acts of investigative journalism.

Some newspapers fail to deliver news and views based on quality and facts due to the influence of the sponsoring or patronizing advertisers. Advertisements go a long way for funding the costs of publication and advertisers would not permit such news as would be detrimental to their business interests.

The advent of electronic media has brought a new dimension to news reporting. Internet magazines like The First Edition. Subha Savero, Aaj Tak, etc. not only give highlights but also provide visual evidences of happenings. Their power to stir the emotions is, therefore, much more than that of printed words. Thus, we can see NDTV,  Zee News, Aaj Tak and CNN on the idiot box and also through the Net, at any time of the day. Topical video-magazine issues like the one on the Ayodhya riots had to be banned. Further, the Tehelka tapes were shown by various TV channels. Within a few hours, the entire world learned about the machinations of our bureaucrats, politicians and army officials.

Another phenomenon of the electronic age is the invasion from the satellites. Cable TV has entered nearly 90 per cent of Indian homes. Multichannel telecasts of uncensored films from the platter channels have brought sex, violence and instability on a platter. On the one hand live coverage of news items by BBC and CNN keeps us updated. On the other, the explosion of sex and violence dethrones us from our moral platforms. TV and radio play a great role in educating the masses. Awareness-oriented spot films on family planning, the importance of the girl child and the necessity to save our natural resources like forest, have a beneficial effect on crores of viewers.

All these have a great bearing on the masses and are likely to change their attitude. But like a two-edged sword, TV may also lead to wrong psychological tendencies. The media hype are too much exposure to advertisements for consumer goods create a feeling of material vacuum in viewers. It leads to a desire in them for an economic status which is beyond their reach.

TV and radio are being used by educational for a disseminating knowledge. The UGC, EMRC and IGNOU broadcast programmes on TV and provide crores of viewers with free education and information to enhance and update their skills and sets of knowledge.

A new dimension to our democratic process has been brought about by the live coverage of Parliament in session. Millions of voters watch their representatives on the screen, which make the rulers responsible and answerable for everything they say or do. However, our rulers should bring more decorum into their behaviour.

Due to the advent of Internet, there is an absolute revolution in the media. All major newspapers, magazines and even television programmes are available on Internet. There are about two millions Internet connections in India and this number is growing everyday. This new technology would help India in achieving her aims in IT, industry and business.


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