A free media is the guardian of citizens’ rights and a safeguard against the excesses of authority. The Indian media has often played this role with courage and responsibility. But what happens when the guardian morphs into jury and judge? The electronic media, especially, is blurring the lines between investigation and opinion. The same TV media that relentlessly pursued justice for Jessica Lal today displays a brazen disregard for individuals’ rights and the due process of law. It passes off hidden agendas as facts, casually ruins reputations and bays for blood as it exploits the “power of the press”. The deplorable antics of some of our TV channels have shocked the world. This dangerous approach also risks losing credibility and inviting regulation which could lead to censorship. Is it the compulsion of TRP revenues at work, or an overweening hubris? And what can be done to restore a trusted and respected media?
Abhinandan Sekhri is a writer, director, producer and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Newslaundry and Small Screen.