Is the Indian media misusing its freedom?

We need to first distinguish whether the medium in question is television, radio, print or the internet.  

The television media is mostly run by corporate sponsorship or political backing.  These stations will spout the vision and values of the persons with the controlling interest.  Rarely will they be able to report independently and thus the only misuse of the freedom is toeing a certain line and not being free to broadcast at will.   

The radio stations are controlled by state or corporate funding. Where there are a few independent radio stations, their target audience is limited to certain geographic areas and the news dissemination is also likewise limited to the areas in question.   

In many states, the major newspapers and magazines are published with state backing or by families and organizations allied with the political parties.  The information from these papers will toe the respective party lines.  Where established independent newspapers exist, many of the editorial boards of these papers have made a conscious decision not to alienate the powers that be.   

The internet is another matter altogether.  Established websites of all the major networks and independent media as well as countless individual websites and blogs compete for the fickle attention of the web surfers from all over the globe.  The internet is the media source that is truly independent and there is the definite possibility that many of the individual websites may be misusing their freedom to publish at will.  On the positive side, numerous independent websites, without any strings attached, have created forums for the frank exchange of ideas and knowledge.  This can only be considered a positive phenomenon.  

Many of the individual blogs and independent websites are challenging the established websites, and the former are not burdened with having to tailor the news as per the financial backers.  Many independent blogs have taken the lead in exposing official corruption, or in revealing the murkier side of politics, power and privilege. 

Some of the Indian media have abused their freedom under the guise of investigative journalism and tried to entrap corrupt politicians through sting operations.  There was also the case of the investigative journalists who were responsible for the false accusations of abuse against an educational institution’s administrator.  The administrator resigned under pressure from parents outraged by the false accusations.  Though the truth came to light later and the administrator was reinstated, the damage had been done.  

Indian reporters, in every medium – television, radio, print and the internet – must be vigilant to ensure that they observe and report the news without becoming part of the news story.   

In conclusion, while there has definitely been misuse of freedom by some Indian media, nevertheless, a thriving, independent media is necessary to act as the guarantor of civic freedoms.  Those in power may sometimes feel the urge to curtail freedoms, but thankfully due to people power and the internet, it will impossible to fully censor either independent ideas or the right to free speech.

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