Role of Media in Democracy

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We have been witness in recent years to rapid, and unprecedented, changes in our society, economy, and polity. These have also transformed the Indian mass media system. The growth in its scale, reach and influence, however, has not been matched by corresponding sensitivity towards non-commercial and non-market dimensions.

This aspect is of relevance because the media is the fourth estate in a democracy. It plays a major role in informing the public and thereby shape perceptions and through it the national agenda. Its centrality is enhanced manifold by increased literacy levels and by the technological revolution of the last two decades and its impact on the generation, processing, dissemination, and consumption of news.

Two other consequences of the change need to be noted:

Media platforms and devices for consumption today vary between traditional, non-conventional, and the experimental. They span traditional print, audio-visual, and digital modes. Convergence between news media, entertainment and telecom has meant that the demarcation between journalism, public relations, advertising and entertainment has been eroded.

Increases in per capita income, discretionary spending capability, attractiveness of India as a market and as a destination of foreign investment, have all reinforced the centrality of the Indian mass media system.

As a result, media outlets assume importance not only for marketing and advertisement but also for the ‘soft power' aspects of businesses, organisations, and even nations. Media entrepreneurship today is a necessary condition for any growing business enterprise, a political party, and even individuals seeking to leverage public influence for private gain.

Furthermore, the trend towards globalisation has empowered individual citizens through increased movement of goods, capital, services and ideas. Economic liberalisation and spread of digital technologies have aided it. New media have brought forth new means of...
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