The role of media during COVID-19.

The role of media during COVID-19.

We all know that media is known as the 4th pillar of democracy. But has it played the role it should be playing – making every citizen an informed citizen?

Don’t worry that is where we come in, My Inner Politician, we like discussing topics that usually don’t come to our notice easily.

We know it is a challenging time for everyone. We respect and salute our frontline workers who are dealing with this deadly disease – COVID-19, every day.

Both Central and State governments are working as a single unit to fight together. In such a situation, journalism plays a very key role in informing the citizens about the latest developments related to the disease, acting as a bridge between the Government and the citizens.

Journalists are also a part of frontline workers who are reporting from the most dangerous areas and situations.

A point to be noted here – we are not conveying that the news channels are not to be trusted nor we are demeaning any particular news channel. We are just pointing out a few aspects of journalism that should be followed. Following news channels or not is up to you.

The Problem with Prime-time Shows

If a person notices the prime-time slots of a new channel from 8 to 10 PM shows. It is mostly gossip related news. The game of TRPs and advertising money.

For e.g., if a news channel is talking about Coronavirus, a completely neutral topic, not related to any political party at all, who do you think should the anchor or news channel invite on the show?

Doctors, Professors, Pharma companies, bureaucrats, politicians that are related to the situation such as a State’s health minister or home minister or so.

But who do the news channels invite? Political analysts favoring a particular political party.

Now, what happens here is – blame game, abuses, fake news, etc. Who is there to verify if the political analysts are spreading fake news or not? No one, literally no one.

Because no one knows any details about the Virus nor is there any concrete information worldwide that can verify a person’s claims.

These political analysts go to such an extent that the discussion goes out of hand on Live Tv and there is no value given to the viewers except for some unnecessary talk.

A citizen is watching the news to stay informed, to be safe, to know the latest developments in dealing with the virus, etc. because there is a lot of uncertainty around the virus.

It is not that all prime-time shows are the same. Sometimes the news channels invite relevant panelists for the discussion.

If the agenda of the discussion is on Vaccine developments, a researcher from New York is called in, a doctor from AIIMS, a State’s health minister, a cabinet minister who is in the Central team, etc. Completely relevant.

Or if the agenda of the discussion is on business during COVID-19 or post COVID-19, business leaders from the country are called in. Completely relevant.

No political analysts or politician makes an entry here.

Relevancy is extremely important. Guests on a show should be invited based on the agenda and the contribution the guest can provide to the discussion.

There are news channels covering anti-government news all the time, even if the government does good and there are news channels that are always in favor of the government, even if the policy is not suited to the interests of the citizens.

How can media make sure the Government is doing its best?

The Health Ministry does press conferences 3-4 times a week to ensure the citizens receive genuine information and updates regarding the virus.

Reporters of various media channels are present at the press conference to ask relevant questions to the concerned officials on behalf of the citizens. It helps bring out essential information from the press conference.

When questions are asked – it makes the government accountable for certain actions or so. You get the drill.

The media can expose any gaps or flaws in what is being said and what is being delivered.

For e.g., if a State claims to provide all the facilities needed to treat COVID-19 patients and suppose, there are no PPE kits in 20 hospitals or in a particular area. The media can expose it and ensure the State government is providing the same.

It is the job of the media to act as a bridge between the government and the citizens and make sure the government is doing its best.

Not just during COVID-19, but the media should play a responsible role at all times.

End of story.

About the author-
Tanuj Mittal is a digital strategist, part-time Political enthusiast, Traveler and, Photographer. You can find him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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