Being recognised as the 4th pillar in any modern democracy, media can play a vital role either to strengthen or weaken it. It has virtually become the most powerful institution of modern times that can make or break any political career, campaign or party and even marriages by floating a single story.
This argument is well explained by the acknowledged Black rights activist of the twentieth century Malcolm X when he had said, “Media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
Although having the capacity to use something for the malevolent ulterior motives and actually doing it are different things together, yet the media had drawn no line whenever an opportunity to connive with tyrant forces had arisen to meet their own petty ends. It is true that all the powers and innovations come with some added curse, but the lies of mainstream media outweigh its advantages so much that instead of being the 4th pillar of democracy, it appears to be antithetical to the very concept of democracy, acting entirely for its obliteration.
Media has been entrusted with the role of putting the facts in front of the masses so that they can better judge the circumstances and form an opinion. However, media does contrary to this and try to inculcate tailor-made opinions in the minds of masses and has left no stone unturned to stymie the intellectual growth of masses. If taking away the power to weigh and analyse is the moral equivalent of death, then there is no exaggeration in saying that the power of media has done more damage to society than both the World Wars combined.
We live in a time of political fury and widening cultural divides. But if there is one thing on which almost everyone agrees, it is that the news and information we receive biases as Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” Every second of each day, someone is complaining about bias, in everything from the newest movie reviews to sports commentary to the BBC’s coverage of BREXIT. These complaints and controversies take up a growing share of public discussion.
The media (especially in the third world) considers itself a holy cow; media personnel come in front of the public and promote whatever & whoever’s agenda they are working on. There is no one powerful enough to consider them accountable for what they say or promote, they’ve become the untouchable elite of the society.
Media is the marketplace of ideas, it is imperfect but essential to facilitate the search for truth.
Even mature democracies struggle with the difficulty of faux news. On January 1, 2018, Germany announced that it might begin to enforce a law, referred to as NetzDG, requiring social media sites to get rid of hate speech and faux news within 24 hours or face fines of up to 50 million Euros. In March 2018, the European Commission’s High-Level Group on fake news and online disinformation issued a report concluding that although disinformation might not necessarily be illegal, it nevertheless is harmful to democratic values. Although ostensibly eschewing “any sort of censorship, either public or private,” it advocates greater self-regulation within the short term, with a long-range goal of developing a Code of Practices to encourage transparency, media literacy, diversity, the event of tools to “tackle” disinformation, and further research to watch and assess the sources and impact of faux news. On the other hand, also in March, the Dutch Parliament voted to repudiate EUvsDisinfo.eu, a European Union website created by the East Stratcom Task Force in 2015 to report disinformation and faux news allegedly spread by Russian actors. Its Dutch opponents characterize it as a state publication that “passes judgments whether a publication within the free media contains the right views or not. If your publication ends up in its database, you’re officially labelled by the EU as a publisher of disinformation and faux news.”
At a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, in February 2016, Trump vowed, “I’m aiming to open up our libel laws so once they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up libel laws, and we’re going to have people sue you as you’ve never gotten sued before.” In March 2017, he claimed in a tweet that “The failing anytime has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for 2 solid years. Change libel laws?” And in October, he complained that it’s “frankly disgusting the press is in a position to write down whatever it wants to write.” He raised the issue again in January 2018, contending that “Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and don’t represent American values.”
This mentality now spans the whole political spectrum and pervades societies around the world. A recent survey found that the majority of individuals globally believe their society is broken and their economy is rigged. Both the left and therefore, the right feel misrepresented and misunderstood by political institutions and the media, but the anger is shared by many within the liberal centre, who believe that populists have gamed the system to reap more attention than they deserve. Outrage with “mainstream” institutions has become a mass sentiment.