In a democratic set up the role and responsibilities of the Press is very high. It is one of the four pillars that sustain democracy. It is as important as other pillars i.e. the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
The power of the press is much more than we see. It has an unwritten supremacy over the other three pillars. It criticizes the government, criticizes both the ruling and opposition parties. It suggests ways to improve the functioning of the government. Now it has come forward to criticize the judiciary too. Nowadays we come in contact with news and articles criticizing the judiciary for its verdict on Plachimada, for the acquittal of the accused in the sex scandal case etc.
The power and strength of the Press is revealed here. The power unless used with great care will cause severe damage.
The first and foremost duty of the Press is to furnish uncoloured news. Also, it should furnish news on all fields such as science, economics, politics etc. Suppression of news should not be avoided nor should undue emphasis be laid. Some Dailies of vested interests now print unimportant and trivial news items in the front page while the news of importance get placement in the inner pages.
Another great responsibility of the Press is to express public opinion without fear or favour. The Press is called the eyes and ears of the world. It has to keep an eye on what happens and reflect views of the people on those happenings.
The Press is a medium not only to give news to the public but to express public opinion.
The letters of the readers published under, letter to the editor’, ‘your views’ etc. initiates debates on controversial issues. The Press is not only a mirror of what the people think, but it is a school of instruction and a source of guidance to the common people. Journalists have to throw light on significance of the problems facing their country. The average reader is not intelligent enough to form correct opinions. So he looks to the press.
The Press should keep itself away from political party. If the press is under the control of political parties, a reader cannot expect uncoloured news. When the press follows sectional or narrow interests, disasters follows.
We have had the experience of not allowing the Press to function freely. It was happened during the time of interval emergency imposed in India in1977. Censorship on press was imposed then. During that ‘dark period’ people were unaware of what was really happening in the country.
The possibility of having such a situation in India, it seems, is remote. So far, so good.