A Free Media is critical to a healthy first world economy. It is a Free Media that
- reports on the true state affairs,
- holds the public (and private) sector accountable for their actions,
- presents ideas for improving the situation, and
- ensures that the freedoms granted to the people are maintained.
A truly Free Press
- paints a bleak picture when the picture is bleak, and doesn’t ignore the fact that at least a third of the country is in poverty,
- exposes corruption on a daily basis when it continues to occur on a daily basis,
- tackles the tough issues of health care and education and presents different options for improving the situation, and
- fights for the poor as well as the middle (and higher) classes that can afford to support them in their efforts.
However, in India
- the plight of the poor who live in slums without access to running water or even a sanitary toilet is almost completely ignored by the daily publications;
- even the media is corrupt; as per this article over on Realpolitik, during the fifteenth general elections to the Lok Sabha took place in April-May 2009 a disturbing trend was highlighted by sections of the media, that is, payment of money by candidates to representatives of media companies for favourable coverage, or the phenomenon popularly known as “paid news”;
- As per Dreze & Sen’s An Uncertain Glory, among more than five thousand articles published on the editorial pages of India’s leading English-medium dailies during the last six months of 2012, less than 1% of the total editorial space was dedicated to health-related matters; and
- the rights of the poor to be treated fairly are almost never tackled; take the plight of the Dom community for example, as outlined by Dreze & Sen and referenced in our last post — twenty five years living next to the power plant that they work for without even a single electricity connection!
The media in India is failing. The plight(s) of the poor, and even the (lower) middle class, go unchallenged, the accountability of the public sector goes relatively unchallenged, and the media itself is often corrupt. Unless the media stands up and insists on what’s right, what’s wrong will continue to flourish and all of the problems plaguing India will continue unabated.