The death of Congress spokesperson Rajiv Tyagi due to a heart attack after attending a TV discussion on Wednesday has triggered a debate on the necessity of bringing in some civility to what has been happening in TV studios of late.
People who have watched Indian television debates now would hardly vouch that they became better informed after watching them. Instead, they would hear what they loved to hear, and not the other side of the argument.
This cacophony with little clarity offers an antithesis to journalistic principles, and is hence unfortunate.
Democracy demands that the people, the ultimate arbiters, have access to the right information so that they can take informed decisions on issues concerning them and the nation.
Mass media is one of the sources through which they get such information. Discourses, whether on television or in other platforms, help this process, and hence are extremely important.
Freedom of the media is not expressly mentioned in our Constitution, but Article 19(1)(a) which deals with the right to speech and expression of citizens stands guarantee to it.
This Article identifies the right of the media with that of the citizens, and hence inseparable, making it one of the strongest safeguards for media freedom.
Hence it is incumbent on the media to be responsible while enjoying this freedom.
Independent media has a role only in a democracy, and it is for the survival of its own self-interest that the media must strengthen the democratic processes by being democratic in its conduct of business.
The Indian media has traditionally opposed governmental intervention, and rightly so.
It has opted for self-regulation instead. It is time the organisations which have a moral authority on the channels exert themselves and help discussion rooms return to their basics, instead of making them gas chambers for participants and the idea of democratic disagreement.