FREEDOM OF PRESS IN PRESENT SCENARIO
Communication is the act of imparting or exchanging of ideas and information by various methods and ways and media is the mode or he instrument for the completion of communication of such information. The “Media” mainly means of mass communication which denotes the print and electronic information carriers, i.e. newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and in the present situation that is the Internet. Thus, called as the ‘fourth estate’, of media and is the ombudsman of the public all over the world and affairs and acts as the forum to advocate the views and sentiments of the society at large to those who are in command of the public affairs. Since eternities or we could say is since the elder days when there was no internet the people all around the world use to clench knowledge and current affairs through the mode of newspapers, televisions or the magazines
Press is also observed as one of the pillars of democracy as its acts as watchdog of the main three organs of democracy. Though, freedom of speech and expression which also includes press is enjoyed and entertained and admired by the citizens all over the world but there are instances where the press has to face difficulties as well.
Freedom of press is contradictory in a capitalist society because it is freedom of ownership that relies on the ‘unfreedom’ of those who do not own a press. Freedom of the press in a capitalist social formation implies and, in fact, depends on, a lack of freedom of communication for the working class. Freedom of press is manifestly and the period of the emergence of capitalism.
Press freedom is a property right, freedom of the press under capitalism has an economic imperative. Democracy cannot survive without a free and fearless press. A robust, free and vibrant media is as important as an independent judiciary in consolidating democracy and strengthening constitutional rule of law, Media is dovetailed with other forms of capital. The press is not only free, it is powerful. That press power is ours. It is the proudest that man can enjoy. Also the freedom of press is assured only to those who own one.
If we take a look upon India the freedom has fallen to two places to 138th of position among the 180 countries. The journalists are the one who plays key role in the press field and due to the large violence(physical) spreading against the journalists is much more responsible for the ranking of low Indian position.
Basic Elements which forms the core of the Notion of Press Freedom
1. Liberty of the press is crucial to the state.
2. No former curbs should be placed on the publications.
3. That does not mean there is press freedom for doing what is forbidden by law.
4. Every man has the undoubted right to lay what sentiment he places before the public, but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal he must take the consequence of his own audacity.
Freedom of press includes right to obtain and publish information. It is pertinent to all types of printed and broadcast material, including books, journals, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, films, radio and television programs and social media.
Freedom of press has three elements
· Freedom of access to all source of evidence or information
· Freedom of exchange and circulation
· Freedom of publication
In Case the case of Romesh Thapar v. state of madras: Entry and circulation of the English journal cross Road, printed and published in Bombay, banned by the government of madras stating it to be violate of freedom of speech and expression, as without liberty of circulation, publication would be of little value. In the case of Prabha Dutt v. Union of India, The SC directed the superintendent of Tihar jail to allow representatives of a few newspapers to interview Ranga and Billa, as they wanted to be interviewed.
The actual role of press during pandemic
Media and press play a much crucial and vital role in society due to the fact that citizens are largely dependent on the press for getting conversant with what is actually happening all around the world, the freedom of press is now much more important than ever.
Journalists nowadays because of gathering of information regarding the pandemic are performing commendable job in the media sector they continue performing the work even after risking their own and family’s lives.
They while performing the job also take care of public around them by spreading health related information also educates the common public regarding the pandemic, this is how the media and press actually play a way major role by keeping the society aware of guidelines:
· They make people and common public aware of the symptoms and curative or preventive measures which are to be taken in order to stay healthy by low risks.
· They also spread the information regarding the quarantining guidelines and to follow the social distancing.
· The make people aware of policies and the orders or the rules and regulations made by the government.
· The keep on providing regular and important updates to keep the society updated
During the ongoing pandemic definitely media and press has played major role and public should actually praise them, they acted as the network or the connection between two ends by spreading information and awareness at each and every level and in any situation no matter what.
Bu the fundamental right to freedom of press is also subject to certain reasonable restrictions. As it the 21st century and a well-known term to all “digital era” just because of the technical advancements have not only made the work for the press and media lighter and has made the information get spread in fraction of seconds but also has created some negative impacts by spreading some fake information and rumors
There should be some verification process which is to be strictly followed by the media and press:
· Finding out the original source of the particular information.
· The information sources which are gathered should be trustworthy and much genuine.
· They information should be relatable, reliable and credible.
· Whether or not the information is conveyed accurately.
Also through the censorship of press and the media support it is never good solution in a democracy in a country, but looking at the panic-mongering state of affairs governing due to outspread of the false or wrong information, the management is asking to do so. Also due to such situation the international press institute is closely checking or observing press freedom limitations amid the coronavirus pandemic. Also the SC has also put out some directions to the media to go through or refer and to publish the main version or the official version related to developments while earshot a government plea to vet media exposure.
Freedom of press is the main component of media and it is incomplete in the democratic country like India and without which the democratic country cannot survive or sustain. It plays an important role and has many responsibilities to provide it to people and guide to the common public and support them to deal with this worldwide health related problems or crisis. However, there is a need for regulation of freedom in the current scenario as ambiguous information related to coronavirus it Is spreading heavily and faster and is creating a chaos. It is much important to stay safe and follow the guidelines issued by government and keep view of press and media news.
AUTHOR: Shreyasee Mehta
(R N Patel Ipcowala School Of Law And Justice)