Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Journalism and Democracy

Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder opines, “Democracy is impossible without freedom of the press, for freedom of the press is the basis of democracies. Complex controversies cannot be solved without freedom of the press, as questions must be aired. Freedom of the press is one of the major building blocks in a democracy.”
Journalism is the voice of the voiceless and plays the role of watchdog in the society. It is strong bridge between concerning authorities and the people. It handles all public issues. In fact, press is the people’s open forum. Press makes such an environment where people get information and be prepared to take part in democracy. People’s participation is the foundation of democracy. Press is the pillar of democracy.
Press freedom is mother and heart of all freedom by which democracy can be measured. But press freedom is not solution itself , it is just the means of solution. Press is a watchdog of the society. Without right to speak and publication, democracy is impossible. Without free speech people can’t express their ideas, opinion and neither can they participate in social discourses. Realizing the role of press, British politician “Edmund Burke” in the late 18th century had establish press as a fourth organ of the state.
In the democratic equation there are three types of identities: the politicians, the public and the publication. These three P’s of the democratic process which, through their correlation with each other , make modern democracy unique compared to other political philosophies. The relationship between the politician and the public, through the media and journalism particularly is distinctive in a democracy and has a very special connection with the electoral process, which separates true democracy from imitations. We can take the example of USSR which also had elections but that certainly didn’t make them a democracy. Liberated media is fundamentally crucial in genuine democratic societies because it practices the theory of including the public in governmental affairs, and commemorates the democratic idea that reality can only be relative and truth and facts are to be deemed authentic by individuals, not administrators.
Journalism is necessary because direct democracy is obsolete. People do not really have a say in modern democracy except for their vote. Journalism serves as a mirror to socio-political reality. It informs people about what really is going on and involves them in decision-making processes. In a democracy most of the times an average person is gone unnoticed and it is through journalism that average people are able to have a say and influence on things. The only real reason there is journalism in democracy is to make people aware.Had it not been for newspapers and media we wouldn’t be aware of the events taking place in the world. We wouldn’t be informed and cautious as we are now. Due to journalism we know about elections and candidates and we vote accordingly to what we hear and see through T.V, newspapers.

The main difference between a democratic and non democratic country is not determined by elections, but by how free their journalists are.Journalism fails to serve its purpose in the absence of freedom.
Journalism is an anarchist dimension where individuals can choose to relay the truth, or make their own. Governments don’t need free press, but free journalism needs democracy. Free journalism is simply impossible without one. A democracy would be unattainable without attempting to include the public into governmental affairs.
The central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.
Media functions in democracy as:-
• Informing the public
• Investigation
• Analysis
• Social Surveillance
• Public forum
• Mobilization
A French novelist once said, “Free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.” Journalism, for better or for worse, is the best example of the freedom of individuals and the importance of free thought in a democracy.
Media itself wants to become free therefore it always supports the democracy. On the other hand the government also needs to communicate with people. It is only possible when there is a well functioning democracy. If we look back to the history of Nepal then we find press took growth after the introduction of democracy in 1951. before it Gorkhapatra was the only medium for government to reach peoples. But later when King Mahendra took the power and declared Panchayat system the right to press freedom was violated and private sectors were restricted. In 1990 after the restoration of democracy Press got flourished and today also it is believed that it was press which took the positive change and growth. Similarly during Janaandolan-2 King Gyanendra took power and attacked Nepali press. Lots of foreign news channels were banned to broadcast in Nepal. News papers were not allowed to publish against the government and F.M. radios were not allowed to broadcast news. After Janaandolan-2 again Nepali media got its freedom and it was possible only because of democracy. If we look at the media of Myanmar then we can find less freedom for press and press working as the mouthpiece of government. It proves that democracy and journalism are both interdependent. Neither journalism nor democracy can be imagined separately. Journalism is taken as an inseparable part of any democratic system.

1 comment:

The global journlalist said...

Good article, saathi, keep it up hai.