Press Must Remain Free
Fri, 24 Mar 2023

Press Must Remain Free

Exam View: Significance of Media, Challenges faced by Media, Growth of media.

Context: Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, at the Ramnath Goenka Awards for Excellence in Journalism, reiterated the significance of free and independent press which can ask difficult questions to the establishment, to ensure a functional and healthy democracy.


  • Despite being considered the fourth pillar of democracy, Indian press and media have been under attack from various factions trying to promote their narrow agendas.
  • Attacks on journalists and crusaders of free speech such as Gauri Lankesh, G Gopinath etc. have dented the foundation of the institution.
  • Decline in India’s press freedom ranking to 150 shows a grim situation for the Indian press and media.

Decoding the editorial:  The significance of Media

  • Media sparks debates and discussion, pulls the society out of collective inertia and plays an important role in shaping the course of current events. For example, the “Me too movement” fuelled by social media broke the inertia of abused women globally.
  • Pre Independence media acted as catalysts of social and political change by raising awareness and increasing outreach. For example, Dr. Ambedkar launched several newspapers such as Mooknayak, Bahishkrut Bharat, Janata, etc. to create awareness about the rights of the depressed class.
  • Repository of Historical knowledge: Pre Independence publications and newspapers are now a source of knowledge, a historical record of courageous acts of masses who fought against the colonial rulers.
  • Democratisation of media due to increased outreach and expansion of journalism through social media. Online platforms have provided an opportunity to individuals to launch their own online media channels
  • Local or community-based journalism has played an important role in encouraging social cohesion and political activism. It has educated citizens and raised debates on issues at policy level. It also acts as representative of local communities.
  • Community journalism enables members of marginalised communities to voice their concerns about their own issues. The emergence of social media enabled them to create their own space and come up with independent media platforms.
  • Electronic, print and social media facilitated the State to disseminate relevant information to the general public at large during the COVID-19 lockdown. Media also highlighted administrative loopholes and excesses.
  • Legal journalism sheds light on the complexities of the law and presents key highlights of judgement to masses in simpler terms.

Beyond the Editorial: Challenges faced by Journalism

  • Fake news poses a serious threat to the independence and impartiality of the press in the current society. A comprehensive fact-checking mechanism should be in place to verify all news items before reporting.
  • Legitimacy of news: A diverse and representative newsroom is essential for media institutions to provide well-researched and complex stories that explore a multiplicity of perspectives and voices.
  • Trial by Media: there have been instances when the media has carried narratives that make a person guilty in the eyes of the public, even before the court finds them guilty.
  • Decline in attention span of viewers due to social media which has made it necessary to present important issues in short clips replacing long-form or investigative pieces.
  • Ownership of media houses by corporations.
  • Difficult and Unfriendly conditions for journalists which also sometimes becomes a safety issue for them and their families.

Responsible journalism is the beacon of truth that can guide us to a better tomorrow. It is the engine that drives democracy forward, based on the quest for truth, justice, and equality


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