(The Writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The word ‘journalism’ since time immemorial has always ignited passion and fervour among individuals, especially those, who have the tendency to witness matters, happen in a transparent manner. And that is the reason why journalism has always been tagged as the ‘mirror to the three pillars of democracy’, something which is known to one and all. If the legislative, executive and judiciary are tagged as the three pillars of a structure known as ‘democracy’, then media is quite popularly termed as its fourth pillar. Like the other three pillars of democracy, the fourth pillar is also powerful and independent in its own terms.
However, the unfortunate thing is that of late, the bearers of the fourth pillar of democracy are under serious threat, especially because of some atrocious and barbarous acts done by some wicked miscreants. These miscreants, in order to stop the vibrant work culture of the media, attack journalists and make them suffer grievous injuries, directly or indirectly, bringing threats to their lives. Although threats hovering around the life of a journalist is not a new issue to be confabulated, however, the recent attacks on one or the other journalist have once again put this alarming issue under scanner. And the pivotal question revolving around the society is: how secured are journalists?
The conspicuous fact is that whatever a journalist speaks or writes is directly based on the right guaranteed to him by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution of India subject to the restrictions provided in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. Thus in India, the journalists or the media persons basically enjoy ‘Freedom of Press.’ And ‘Freedom of Press’ is the principle which means that communication and expression through various media, including print and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exercised freely. Such freedom implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state; its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protection. Furthermore, The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinions and expressions; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.” Thus all these doctrines clearly opine that publishing the fact, the unknown truth for the benefit of the mass, without fearing for anyone is the sole right of media or its bearers i.e. journalists. Moreover, people appreciate journalists highly, because they are presumed to possess a neutral character and they also give their heart out while publishing any news, be it from the city itself or from some remote areas, without thinking of rest or personal privilege. Thus for media, the common mass is the sole inspiration, and for the common people media is their unified powerful voice.
However, the scenario of late has not been a salubrious one. Severe injuries have been caused to journalists by some unidentified malefactors to fulfill their selfish and wicked motives. And if we analyse all the attacks that have been done on journalists, then the noticeable fact is that most of the attacks have been done either to prevent journalists from telecasting something which is bona fide, or to permanently stop his pen or voice, so that genuine items can never come in front of the people.
Neutral journalists in the present time are really essential, especially for a democratic country like India where people belonging to various tribes and communities reside. However, the continued attacks on journalists might even make a few neutral journalists think of their security, especially while coming out with some bold news items that can raise eyebrows. In fact, if we move back to history, we would definitely find the heart-wrenching incident of a journalist named Parag Kumar Das, who was murdered in daylight by some mischievous individuals, especially because of his bold and fearless journalism. Although the fear revolving around the life of a journalist, the incessant threatening calls one after another, political pressure etc haven’t stopped yet, but the good news is that most of the journalists do not care for all these hindrances and they positively move forward to publish news items for the greater benefit of the burgess.
Thus, it is evident that journalists most of the time work for the benefit of a nation as well as the society. Likewise, the government should also think about the security of the journalists. The members sitting in the Parliament must think about coming up with an act such as ‘The Protection of the Journalists’ where there must be provisions of taking immediate actions against those vexatious persons, who call journalists and threaten them. Similarly in that same Act, there can also be provisions like providing a group of security officials for each recognized media house, and the security officials must look after journalists, especially those who have received or is supposed to receive some kind of threat from unidentified individuals. Thus if such type of provisions are made and along with it if a particular section of people refrain themselves from putting pressure upon journalists, then definitely the scenario can be revamped for good.
Thus, the crystal clear fact is that for proper running of a nation, media houses have to play a crucial role by pointing out good things and also the lapses of the government in an unbiased manner. Similarly, for proper functioning of society, media also has to publish or telecast news that is good or harmful for society. However, if frequent attacks are done upon journalists, then that would somewhere down the line surely break them mentally, and directly or indirectly the consequences of it would be felt by the nation, since media often remains the bridge between a nation and its people. Indeed life as a journalist is like playing with fire, but subsequently it is the duty of the government to ensure that journalists don’t get burnt in fire, by taking care of them and also providing them proper protection. But if the opposite happens, then the country would slowly start losing the bold and the fearless journalists. Thus the government should always remain as an armour or a shield, especially for the bearers of the fourth pillars of democracy, in order to make the world’s largest democratic country more bold, vibrant and transparent.