DOES MEDIA NEED A POLICY?
When anybody can talk about anything, anytime, in any manner, at any place, using any medium, and to any audience without any ownership, responsibility and accountability, does it fall into the description of the freedom of speech and expression. On the other hand, if media of different types, mainly electronic and social media enjoy the same right, what does it portend for democracy, rule of law, sanity of the society, having an objective narrative and building up an information society. Also, hopefully through it a knowledge society. Can anybody with no knowledge or expertise and experience be permitted to express in the public domain, something detrimental to those areas? Is rabble rousing an accepted part of our media functioning?
Endless questions will keep cropping up, if you are an objective observer of the Indian media, those who fuel it, and those who reap benefits out of it. Every job has a job description, and so can it not be for the anchors, editors and others, with specific accountability attached to it. Has anybody given a thought that media has completely transformed over the years, more importantly, its multimedia reach and instant mass communication. A reach which even the whole of global media could not think of, a few decades back. The salaries of the anchors speaks it all. As there is no free lunch, who pays the price for the lunch is a million-dollar question. We have landed in a quagmire, we don’t know what to do, and the entire population has got addicted to it, in some form or the other.
Landed in this media quicksand, a media policy is necessity. It might also need a Media Act to deal with all the issues comprehensively. Given the clear-cut nature of government machinery / job description and responsibility, specific persons connected to the issue need to be mandated to present it to the media, and so should be the case for the concerned political executives. The methodology of media note would be very effective in quite a few circumstances. Cogent, clear and can be referred to, anytime. Handling the media in crisis situations needs to have a protocol, legally enabled. Calibrated release of information, fully dependent on its authentication, by the mandated official / political executive can immediately do wonders in bringing in sanity into the media and democratic ecosystem. Leaking governmental information, documents, videos, interrogation details etc should be dealt with as criminal offences.
Party spokespersons defending government’s decisions and action has no locus standi, in the present democratic scheme of things. It messes up with the perception of government decisions being neutral and objective. Officials using personal media accounts synonymous to official accounts is clear cut conflict of interest. Official work cannot at every point be tantamount to personal accomplishment nor can the daily routine, lifestyle, hobbies be made a topic of public domain discussion. Language on social media is another cause of concern. Stock experts on the electronic media debates, are doing immense damage to the very fabric of the nation. The proportion of time dedicated to news and debates needs to be regulated. News needs to be an independent program. Anchor’s roles, responsibilities need to be clearly defined. The angry young man and woman roles with a purpose have to be tempered. Frown and useless aggression, cannot be allowed as tools of media channel self-aggrandisement. Issues are endless, regulation has to start from somewhere.
A TOTALLY UNREGULATED MEDIA CAN BARELY PERFORM THE FUNCTIONS OF THE FAMED FOURTH ESTATE.