How free is the fourth pillar of democracy?

Written By: Puniti Pandey
Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India Updated: Jan 04, 2019, 11:59 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The situation is not restricted to a single country as journalists are often disliked for questioning the powerful almost everywhere.

A day after Rahul Gandhi referred to a journalist as "pliable" and accused her of having a soft stance towards PM Modi while interviewing him, his comments made rounds on the internet drawing criticism from the centre and several media organistaions.

Addressing a press conference after PM Modi's interview to news agency ANI, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday termed the ANI Editor Smita Prakash who was interviewing PM Modi as " pliable journalist".

He even claimed that the interviewer was asking questions and at the same time was also answering it.

Gandhi's comments ignited the netizens and the media fraternity who responded in huge numbers.

Expressing concern over his comments, Editors Guild of India stated, "labelling of journalists has emerged as a favourite tactic on the part of the establishment to discredit, delegitimise and intimidate them".

The Guild further cited events from the past and added, "We have seen our political class use this for some time now. In the recent past, top BJP leaders, as well as those of AAP, have used unambiguously abusive expressions such as 'presstitute', news traders, 'bazaaru' (saleable commodities) or 'dalals' (pimps) for journalists."

The Press Club of India, Indian Women's Press Corps and Press Association also issued a joint statement separately, saying the media expects "restraint from political class".

They further called the terms used against media as "inappropriate" and something that "lower the dignity of discourse".

Though the attack on a journalist is not new in our country, the criticism and the outrage against the inappropriate comment against media personnel is quite unprecedented.

Journalists have time and again been a subject of criticism and attack by the people in power, be it centre or the opposition.

Anything that does not goes down well with the people in power from any fraternity, politics, entertainment or sports, is often termed as false and fabricated. 

The fraternity which is supposed to act as the fourth pillar in the democracy is often mocked for questioning and doing its job. In an extreme case, the country also witnessed an era of censorship where the power had hampered press freedom.

The situation is not restricted to a single country as journalists are often disliked for questioning the powerful almost everywhere.

US President Donald Trump has time and again termed the media as "fake". Recently he even bashed and ridiculed a CNN journalist during a press conference. 

Trump is frequently known for criticising the reporters who question him. According to reports, CNN and Jim Acosta, in particular, have been regular targets of the president.

A more severe consequence for questioning the power was borne by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was brutally killed for criticising the Saudi royal family. Khashoggi, who was on a self-imposed exile in the United States, was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul allegedly at the behest of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

 

Puniti Pandey

A new entrant in the journalism field, Puniti Pandey works with the WION Digital Team. Social and Political injustice along with degrading natural resources concerns her a lot.
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