The Press - its Uses and Abuses in Democracy Essay

 The Press - its Uses and Abuses in Democracy

[Points: Introduction - the necessity of having press - power and duties of a good press - roles to play in democracy - the potentiality of press - how it is misused - conclusion

No civilised society can live without the press. The press has in fact become a great influence in our daily social and political life. The source of its power lies in the principles of democracy which guarantee the freedom of the press. In a democracy, everybody is free to express his honest opinion through the press. The newspaper is the mouthpiece of public opinion and no popular government can afford to ignore it. The press, therefore, wields a great influence on masses as it has direct communication with them.

The Press - its Uses and Abuses in Democracy Essay
In a democratic system, the press carries with it certain obligations. It is the duty of the press to use the great power which it undoubtedly possesses with due regard to truth and with due restraint and judgement. A good press educates and helps in forming sound and healthy public opinion. The favour and disfavour of the press can make or mar a politician's career. Through newspapers, the press gives us information about our day to day political, social and commercial activities. It keeps people posted also with new and informative articles on literature, sports and science. The editorial comments often serve as guidelines to the government for constructive work.
It can harass any stable government by poisoning public opinion. It can also bring them a big success by favouring government actions and taking public opinion with them. Government servants as well as public figures are now more careful because of the fear of being exposed by the press. In short, there are very few people who are not afraid of their power. 
The press serves the great task of bringing about social reforms. Many of the social evils like untouchability, dowry system, smuggling activities, etc. are ruthlessly attacked and criticised by the press. It gives information about the proceedings of the parliament and assemblies and all the important political events in the country. Without these, people would be in the dark about the political and social trends in the country.

In a democratic setup, however, the press is mostly owned or controlled by private agencies, big industrial houses or parties. There is thus a possibility of abuse of the press which tries to safeguard its own interest and echo its master's voice. Because its potential power is in the hands of vested interests, the press is sometimes employed for harmful propaganda. Very often the press distorts or suppresses facts to mislead and confuse masses. The press is even sometimes influenced by foreign interests to twist facts and mould public opinion to suit its political ideology.

The press is thus a watch-dog of democracy. If used carefully, it can help in building up the nation, forming the right public opinion. If misused, it can erode the very foundation of democracy. The press should, therefore, abide by the principle of truthfulness. The primary duty of the press is to establish the truth and work in the interest of the public.
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