Role of Media in the Times of Disharmony

Introduction

The word “media” comes from the word “medium,” which means “mode” or “carrier.” The goal of media is to reach and communicate with a big target group or audience. It serves as a watchdog to preserve the public interest and raise public awareness. Along with the judiciary, executive, and legislative, the media currently serves as the fourth pillar of democracy, with a broad mandate to combat injustice, oppression, crimes, and bias in our society. Media has been a vital aspect of human society from the dawn of time. The media is the most potent medium for mass communication. Apart from reading the newspaper every morning, we can now get the latest news and current events with only a few taps on the phone or by simply turning on the radio or television. The media plays a critical role in keeping everyone informed about current events across the world. A huge majority of people all over the world rely on various forms of media to keep themselves informed about current events on the planet.

Meaning of Social Disharmony

India is a developing society with a rapidly changing socioeconomic environment. Following independence, economic development was not the only pressing concern; the social development of diverse segments of society was also seen as a significant issue.The constant need to classify everyone of us as a part of some racial, ethnic, or cultural grouping causes social discord, which is severely divisive and destroys the society’s already existing harmony.Despite having various constitutional provisions establishing India as a secular state, the Indian society has experienced many instances of social disharmony, which has resulted in communal upheaval. Numerous elements lead to the development of social discord in society.Unemployment, poverty, urbanization, caste discrimination, gender inequality, and other economic factors are among the causes of social discord.

Impact of Media on Society

Media is a potent medicine that, when used properly, may heal a variety of ailments, but when overused, it can become poison. Mass media has become an inextricable component of daily life, whether consciously or unwittingly. The mass media allows information about events that have occurred overseas and at home to be disseminated fast and easily.This is due to the mass media’s ability to disseminate information efficiently.

Importance as a Social Awareness Agent

The media play a vital role in raising public awareness and gathering opinions, facts, and attitudes on a variety of topics. In the rising world, media is the most potent vehicle for communication, raising consciousness, and presenting the true state of society.

With the public’s free engagement, the media as an unbiased informer function as an educator, a mentor, and a protector. As a result, a society cannot be termed democratic until everyone is treated equally. It’s because equality is one of democracy’s most important characteristics. Promoting equality is an attempt to strengthen democracy. As a result, the media plays a critical role in strengthening India’s democracy.

The media exposes the flaws in the democratic system, allowing the government to close loopholes and make the system more accountable, responsive, and receptive. Every day, we are overwhelmed with information in the age of digital media.

Pandemics and the worry they cause can be mitigated by using social media platforms. During the second wave of the epidemic, several NGOs, influencers, and users on social media published regular leads regarding pharmaceutical availability, beds, and other drugs required.

Weather, politics, conflict, health, money, science, fashion, music, and other topics of interest are all covered by the media. One of the most important responsibilities of the media today is to keep people informed about what is going on in their communities and throughout the world. When terrorist acts occur, the role of the media becomes critical because it communicates the message to the rest of the globe.

When the media can have such a beneficial influence on society, it also has the potential to have a detrimental impact. It all relies on how society perceives the issue at hand.

As a destabilizing agent

To maintain community integrity and strengthen communal harmony, society must turn to various media types to reach the vast masses dispersed throughout the globe. It is regarded as a powerful instrument since it has the ability to mobilize public opinion per the conditions at the time. Fear, suspicion, and hostility, which are disseminated through the media, are often believed to be the causes of social discord.

Because the media has an advantage in terms of giving information and substance about what is going on in and around society, people are forced to believe it because it is the primary source. There have been instances where the media has distorted data and facts about societal disparities to the general public.

As technology advances, web-based social networking has become the routine for all individuals, people, and groups, who are more reliant on this technology and this sort of media, has frequently resulted in societal destabilization. However, we cannot surely say that social media, is the only issue and this can be deduced from the fact that it is the way people use it changing its use from actual communication to in-person socializing. one instance of negative impact of social media can be see below.

Islamic terrorism has been reported on a global scale in recent decades, not just in Muslim-majority nations but also in Europe, Russia, and the United States. Terrorism has taken advantage of social media to collect information, recruit people, raise funds, and spread propaganda. Weimann, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a professor at Haifa University in Israel, has been researching the relationship between terrorism and social media since the dawn of the Internet, and has recently released a new paper titled “New Terrorism and New Media.” Terrorist groups, according to his research, use social media platforms to propagate propaganda, generate finances, and recruit and train new members. Terrorists use social media to communicate with one another as well as to attract new members.[1]

Furthermore, cyberbullying is one of the most common social media significant negative impact. “Cyberbullying” refers to bullying that occurs through the use of technology or electronic communication, which includes, but is not limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, texting, or intelligence of any kind transmitted in whole or in part through a wire, radio, electromagnetic, or other means. According to a report released in March 2020 by Child Rights and You (CRY), a non-governmental organization, 9.2% of 630 adolescents surveyed in the Delhi-National Capital Region had experienced cyberbullying, with half of them failing to report it to teachers, guardians, or the social media companies involved.[2]

Role of Media in Promoting Communal Harmony

Communal, caste, language, and regional violence have wracked India throughout the last century, with communal riots reaching hazardous dimensions as early as the 1980s.Numerous instances of minor or major magnitude have heightened community intensity, resulting in an emotional upsurge across the country, which has exacerbated communal tensions.In such cases, the media’s obligation is undeniable. Unfortunately, the media has not always reported on these occurrences objectively and impartially. Modern media frequently overlooks some of its most basic societal responsibilities. Instead, they are prone to sensationalizethe news. For example, the news of Amitabh Bachchan visiting a temple receives far more attention than the Delhi police cracking down on a terror cell.[3]And this is a tendency that must be reversed.

Information technology has had a significant influence on how we think and behave in today’s world. Media has become a catalyst for change in education, entertainment, technological advancement, and information.With the progress of technology, society is being increasingly impacted by the media, which serves as the sole means by which people are kept informed about current events. Especially in light of the fact that the new 4G era media has left a lasting negative impact on this generation.The expansion of mass media, particularly with the introduction of electronic mass media (modern mass media), makes us feel more or less continually overwhelmed, not joyful, and an instant lifestyle like this without any awareness would destroy the future imagination.This is likely due to the fact that today’s young are so naïve and innocent that the media can easily control and manipulate their thoughts.

The media’s role in fostering community harmony entails disseminating information that counter propaganda for rioting, bigotry, or racism. Media is akin to food or the most important nutrient in life, and it may be utilised to enhance or damage society. This is why it has such a profound impact on our daily social and psychological interactions. Our founding fathers thought that secularism is the polar opposite of communalism and the antidote to it. As a result, they declared secularism, in all of its manifestations, one of the Constitution’s fundamental cornerstones. They included it as one of the Constitution’s primary goals in the Preamble.

The media’s role in promoting community peace may also be preventative. It has the potential to promote seminars, debates, and conversations that highlight the diversity of pluralistic social existence. Celebrities may be involved in delivering such important messages about social peace.

The media must take the lead in establishing the foundation for community peace and harmony. This necessitates the media being a proactive participant in the creation process rather than only a bystander and a reporter of current occurrences.

There are instances of presenting prizes to those who are trying to promote community peace and harmony. This is a fantastic indicator of the media’s growing role in fostering harmony amongst individuals in the society. The National Communal Harmony Award 2013 in the organisation category was given to Mumbai’s Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. In the individual category, Mohinder Singh of Delhi and N Radhakrishnan of Kerala were chosen. [4]

Following the current escalation of tensions between communities around the country, every journalist should assume responsibility for fostering communal unity. When writing about communal conflicts, they should adhere to a few basic guidelines:

1. Journalists and columnists have a unique obligation to their country to promote communal harmony and peace. Their works aren’t just a mirror of their personal feelings; they also play a significant role in shaping the feelings and sentiments of the general public. It is consequently critical that students exercise caution and restraint when using their pens.

2. News, views, or comments relating to communal or religious disputes/clashes must be published after thorough fact-checking and presented with caution and restraint in a way that promotes communal harmony, amity, and peace. Headlines that are sensational, provocative, or threatening should be avoided.Acts of communal violence or vandalism must be reported in a way that does not jeopardize the public’s trust in the state’s law and order mechanism. Giving community-specific figures for communal riot victims or writing about the occurrence in a way that is likely to inflame passions, exacerbate tensions, or exacerbate strained relations between communities/religious groups. Those who are concerned or who have the potential to escalate the problem must be avoided.

3.As a chronicler of tomorrow’s history, the media owes an unquestionable duty to the future to record events as straightforward facts. The examination of events and public opinion on them belong to a different genre. The treatment of the two must also be distinct. In a democracy, facts unadorned and stated, with care and restraint, cannot be fairly disputed in times of crisis. However, the author’s perspective on the articles bears a great deal of responsibility. The author must ensure that his or her analysis is free of personal preferences, prejudices, or notions and that it is based on confirmed, accurate, and facts, and that it does not foster disharmony or animosity amongst castes, communities, or races.

Conclusion

Media is a kind of communication that reaches or influences many people, and it plays an important role in statecraft, particularly in the age of the digital revolution. It is a source of knowledge for society on any problem, whether local, regional, or global, and people rely on and even trust what the media presents. The impact of the media can include a wide range of behaviours that go against societal norms or cultural values. In modern times, most people believe that this is not something that deviates from the standard but insteadthat it is a common occurrence. Because people tend to think practically, the expansion of mass media is very rapid and can be easily observed. In today’s world, the media has evolved into a crucial weapon for statecraft.

The ‘fourth estate’ assists the government in advancing its interests, aims, and ambitions. As a result, the media plays an important role in fostering trust or fostering mistrust among the general public regarding national security problems. After reviewing all of the research and analytical studies, it can be concluded that the media’s primary responsibility is to create an informed citizenry to empower society and strengthen democracy, as well as to actively promote social, religious, and communal harmony for the betterment of the community, society, nation, and the entire humanity as a whole.

The media can develop and feed emotions, create complacent fictions and blind spots, misuse brilliant language, and promote hollow slogans. Its reach and power are growing by the day, as new instruments allw us to spread lies quicker and further than our predecessors could have imagined. In India, the media plays a critical and necessary role in promoting communal harmony. The mantra is communal harmony, national integration, and peaceful co-existence to achieve inclusive growth on all fronts and for all sections of our society. Peace and tranquillity that come from communal harmony are beneficial to socioeconomic progress. It promotes a sense of community and compassion for one another among the masses. If the media recognizes its genuine role in fostering social cohesion, whether it is in the national or international media, it must be nurtured”


[1] https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=engl_176

[2] https://www.indiaspend.com/1-in-10-indian-adolescents-faces-cyberbullying-half-dont-report-study/

[3] https://nfch.nic.in/documents/E-Books/RoleMedia.pdf

[4] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/national-communal-harmony-award-for-csss/article5618201.ece

This article is authored by Kartik Garg, Student at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of Legally Flawless or its members.

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