Media is an important part of democracy. It has been labelled as the fourth pillar after Government, Judiciary, and legislature. The main reason for it being called the fourth pillar is because of its large-scale influence over the people. As per the latest data by Reuters, about 8/10 people make their opinions after watching news channels or reading newspapers. This is huge data especially when the world is moving at a faster pace and laws are moving slower which raises the question of morality and brings it onto the podium. Morality as per greek philosophers is very subjective and as per 21st-century morality has become very restricted which brings us to the debate that what is moral and what is immoral. In this paper, the author would analyze how morality plays a very significant role in the development of media and impacts society. This paper would also analyze the media standards that need to be considered today so that it does not affect the people and their mindset while they access the news and the media. The media channels have a higher impact on people than the newspapers since the popularity of the media channels has increased. It’s now not only limited to media channels but has also extended to social media as well. This paper would analyze and develop the connection between media and the significance of morality and how it will improve free and fair reporting.
In the normative sense, “morality” refers to a code of conduct that would be accepted by anyone who meets certain intellectual and volitional conditions, almost always including the condition of being rational. In the 21st Century media is not only an important source of information but also an important part to air the views. It plays a very significant role in the formation of opinions and framing a person’s viewpoint. Media provides us with a wealth of information and keeps us informed about current events across the world. It informs us of what is going on in our immediate environment as well as throughout the world. We gain a great deal of knowledge on a variety of topics thanks to the media. Information is disseminated largely through the media. It transmits, prints, and updates information on a regular basis to keep the general people informed about what is happening in the country and around the world. But with great power comes greater responsibility. Today media is not only limited to news but it has also become very impactful and a major player in the formation of opinions which brings us to our research question is morality important ?.
How are media and morality related?
Media ethics is a field of ethics that deals with moral dilemmas that arise when information is acquired, prepared, stored, presented, disseminated, and received through the use of mass media. Print media (newspapers, periodicals, and books), recordings, motion pictures, and electronic media are all examples of mass media (radio, television, and the computer). Media ethics aims to assist media professionals in resolving moral issues that arise in all fields of media communication, including journalism, advertising, public relations, and entertainment. “Media ethics has largely developed as a field concerned with the practices of professionals, especially the analysis of hard cases that face journalists (deception, disclosure of sources, the blurry borders of objectivity, etc.). The sheer range and diversity of frameworks reflecting on mass communication and its larger social, political, moral, spiritual, pedagogical, economic, cultural, and aesthetic implications suggest a richer agenda for media ethics”.
The media has a significant and complex impact on the public’s perspective and understanding of the world, as well as on developing each individual’s personality and interpersonal interactions. News and reportage, advertising and advertisements, soap operas, and movies all exercise their influence. “in the long run more or less subtle influence on people’s views, choices, and behavior. Because of the ubiquity of the media and their growing presence, the ethical problems that the media practitioners face become increasingly important. The number of publications and conferences on media indicates that among the issues that concern the media people and the public the most important are truth in the media (objectivity and fairness), freedom and responsibility (self-regulatory mechanisms), privacy, and the quality of the media content (violence and pornography)”.
The right to “freedom of speech and expression” is guaranteed by Article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. The press is a necessary component of democracy. It distributes public information. It shapes public opinion. Only under these conditions can parliamentary democracy thrive the media’s ever-watchful gaze. The media not only reports, but also acts as a source of information and link between the government and the general public At a time when the Indian economy is becoming more globalized, There has been a significant shift in the media landscape, and the Indian press is no exception. As the world becomes more global, the press has a greater obligation to protect the public’s interests. The number of people and the country has grown dramatically. With the introduction of private schools, The media, particularly television, appears to have taken over the reins of human affairs both life and work. “The freedom of the press has to be preserved and protected not only from outside interference but equally from those within: An internal
mechanism for adherence to guidelines is sought to be ensured through mechanisms such as ‘letters to the editor’, internal Ombudsman, Media Council of peers and Media Watch Groups which focus the wrongs committed by the media persons, journalists or the management. These measures not only ensure the accountability of the media and act as a brake on the arbitrary and unbridled use of power but also help to enhance the credibility of the press. These ethics are not in the nature of control on the press but are necessary for fair and objective use of the press for maintaining freedom of speech and expression in true spirit”.
In India, the media has played an outsized influence in moulding public perceptions of politics, electoral outcomes, and how power is wielded. Media personalities increasingly brush hands with top-level politicians, industrialists, and business lobbyists, as recent revelations in the Radia tapes demonstrate, and collude in making important government appointments and influencing policy decisions. The Indian media’s indifferent—and generally declining—quality, reliability, and authenticity, loss of diversity and pluralism, shallowness in reporting and commenting on serious issues, and systematic violation of basic norms of responsible journalism stand in stark contrast to its immense financial power and political clout.
Bias, censorship, and selective exclusion
The media has reduced the quality of India’s public conversation in recent years. The growth of the media has resulted in a shrinkage of the public sphere and the development of elitist and socially backward values. This is causing a developing, and potentially fatal, credibility crisis. The poor and deteriorating quality of Indian journalism can be seen in a variety of ways.
This is a rather damning list of faults, to be sure. Editorializing in the news pages, heavy slanting of headlines and photo captions, censorship of views critical of ruling orthodoxies and stories are written from the perspective of the underprivileged and vulnerable, and blacking out of coverage of unconventional, radical, or non-mainstream movements and organizations (including campaigns for peace, human rights, and global warming) are all disturbing.
Even more outrageous is the media’s openly partisan backing for ultra-right-wing and religious-exclusivist political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party, as well as the marginalization of readers’ opinion columns and a systematic refusal to accept and fix factual errors.
These tendencies illustrate the Indian media’s increasingly conservative and retrograde character at a time when conservative approaches must be radically reexamined, and alternative solutions to failed policies, bankrupt ideologies, and sterile mindsets must be explored and examined.
The Indian media is currently experiencing a significant credibility crisis. If it does not reform, it will find that its most valuable asset is rapidly depreciating and finally disappearing. The media, stripped of its authenticity, dependability, and credibility, will cease to be relevant to a huge number of people save as a source of cheap amusement and titillation. Journalism will therefore lose all that makes it worthwhile and socially relevant: it will cease to be an honest, investigative, analytical, public-oriented, and ethical endeavor.