Democracy | News | Media | 02nd September 2021 | Virtual Wire
Since time immemorial, we have been revising the definition of democracy. Democracy is termed as a government, for the people, of the people, and by the people. The most important aspect of democracy is freedom and when it comes to freedom of the press, the discussion becomes a bit intangible.
Freedom does not have a standard measurement and what appears to one as a sufficient amount of freedom can appear to another as an insufficient amount of freedom. In a democracy, media is termed as the fourth estate and it becomes the responsibility of the media personnel to provide the citizens with unbiased quality news.
Talking particularly about the newspapers, we know that their history extends to 130 BCE when the first daily gazette, Acta Diurna was presented on message boards in the Roman Empire. Then the first printed newspaper was the Relation of Germany which happened to be in 1605. India’s first newspaper was Hicky’s Bengal Gazette in 1780.
In a democratic country like India, the media has played a crucial in shaping up the opinions of the citizens. In the pre-independent era, the restrictions put up by the British Raj on the Press is self-explanatory that even they feared the power of the press. All the democratic leaders have reiterated the fact that the freedom of the press is essential for the growth of a nation.
It can be understood by a small statement that the press exists in all countries but the need to be a free press is more vital in a democracy. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of The United States Of America said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” These words by him are a validation that newspapers play an indispensable role in shaping up a democracy.
Newspapers have been the most trusted source of information time and again. Indians still have their foundations of trust laid on the print media when it comes to checking for the credibility of the news. In a study, it was found that Americans trusted social media more and that is why there has been a political distrust and a cynical attitude towards politicians as a consequence among the Americans.
On the other hand, in India, when it comes to choosing their representatives in elections, people tend to believe in the authenticity of newspapers because of their in-depth analysis of the issues; hence, newspapers are seen to be playing an important role in shaping up the opinions of the people based on issues to be focussed on during elections.
The editorial section of the newspapers provide the readers with a wider perspective of approach towards an issue and the tendency of the investigative journalism of the newspapers keeps the ethics of the journalism fostered in a journalist. Newspapers can be seen as the primary mediator between those in power and those who are being ruled. Press and democracy have a symbiotic relationship.
In the Indian context, after two centuries newspapers nevertheless rule the roost in terms of the political conversation. No different media that have come in the ultimate century has been able to uproot the entrenched media of print
in the location of the political sphere. In the West, the cease of newspapers has caused a visible sluggish migration of the readers to online guides. However, the written phrase continues to be taken into consideration to be genuine and effective.