To Whom Is the Press Responsible?

The Press Council of India should examine its mandate and objectives.

 

Two episodes concerning the Indian media in the recent past bring to mind why it is important that the press not only has its ear to the ground, but maintains its close connection to the people on the ground. After all, it is the opinion of the people (primarily expressed through elections, but also other fora) that is the basis of a democratic government. As such, the media is required to maintain a critical distance from authorities and government control so as to ensure that its voice is heard without constraints from them. In the past week, the police in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh filed a case of criminal conspiracy against a journalist for showing children in a primary school being served roti with salt as their mid-day meal. Before that, the chairperson of the Press Council of India (PCI), a retired judge, moved to intervene in a case in the Supreme Court filed by a journalist in Kashmir over the curbs on communication in Jammu and Kashmir.

In both cases, the irony was obvious and disturbing. In the first, the focus was on going after the messenger rather than dealing with the issue he exposed. In the second, the body set up to espouse media freedom was asking to speak in favour of curbing it, going against its normative mandate and the very purpose of its existence.

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Updated On : 11th Sep, 2019

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