The Role of the Media in a Democracy: The Asian Perspective
Journal of Society and Communication, 2013, 447-491
46 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2014
Date Written: November 20, 2013
The role of the mass media as the Fourth Estate in our society has been largely discussed and debated over years. At times, the media as a watchdog under consistent scrutiny does not live up to ideals because of various constraints (not limited to) of ownership, laws, threats, state control or the lack of resources. However we believe the media still has an enormous role to play in a democratic society and it can act as an informative, social and peace keeping force, especially during emergency and conflict situations. Nonetheless it can play this positive role in a democracy only if there is a facilitating societal milieu that allows them to do so.
We study three important episodes spread over time in – Operation Bluestar of India (1984), Twitter revolution of Iran (2009), and the SARS epidemic of China (2002) to emphasize the freedom media requires to function in a democratic society to be an integral player in democratization and how it ensures freedom of speech in a society. We also highlight how emergence of new forms of media is transforming this role.
Keywords: Media, Democracy, Fourth Estate, Press, Freedom of speech
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