Sunday, 3 March, 2024

Responsible Media

As the fourth estate, the media has a critical role in forming public opinion and influencing the political process. Like other three organs of state -- legislature, executive and judiciary--, the media wields significant powers in the modern society. In the digital era, its importance has grown dramatically, especially when it comes to defending the interest of public. It is the key component of democracy, acting as the watchdog against all forms of vested interests, exploitation, injustice and malpractices. Now media is expected to serve the common people who feel insecure at the hands of big inhuman forces that may be freewheeling market, irresponsible corporate and political and business syndicators. If the media are used to serve the big money, the commoners are left high and dry, with negative consequences for peace, development and order.

Moreover, the media should disseminate news, views and analyses in a way that fosters democracy, boosts economic development and contributes for the better livelihoods of the people. We need such media that robustly supports the state-building process. The anti-establishment and anti-state media hardly serve the people and nation. The tendency to clobber the government and state ad hominem is bad for Nepal, the world’s youngest federal republic. Negative attitude does not enable media to bridge between the people and government. Of course, the media has responsibility to criticise and expose the wrongdoing of government. However, in doing so, it must not distort the facts and truth associated with the deeds and gains of the government. It is the duty of media to report and interpret the news events in a balance and impartial manner. Accuracy, truthfulness, neutrality and responsiveness form the cornerstone of media philosophy that every media house must abide by.

The other day Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli underlined the need for disseminating positive message on the issues of citizens, development and prosperity. While inaugurating the Itahari broadcasting of Nepal Television by switching on it from his office at Singha Durbar, PM Oli has rued that some media outlets had been spreading negative and false news about the works and performance of his government, according to the news report of this daily. In a similar manner, Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota noted that Nepali media should free themselves from all kinds of biases and prejudices and work as per the aspirations of the people. “Nepali media are competing for disseminating illusive, false and disappointing news and messages,” added Minister Baskota. His assessment poses a serious moral question to Nepali media houses who often claim that they are committed to professional ethics and norms.

The present government is soon completing two years in office. The nation has witnessed stability and democratic order following the formation of the Oli-led government that enjoys sweeping electoral mandate. There has been significant improvement in the fields of economic development, trade, investment and technology. The relative progress is seen in the promotion of good governance, infrastructure development and reduction in the import and increase in export. Nepal has also attained positive indicators in human development, global corruption level, doing business and competitiveness, among others. Against this backdrop, the media should be positive as well as proactive to convey the real facts and message to the people because the latter have the right to be better informed, not misled by any fabricated news.