The media has a pivotal role to play in a liberal democracy, which required freedom of expression, whether artistic, political or otherwise.
Since the 19th century the media worked as the watchdog for protecting the interests of the common people, exploring the issues relating to the state and the citizen. As a liberal democracy is a contract between the citizen and the state, both agree to remain within their sphere of influence. If any violation occurs in this contract; the media’s role is called for. Its importance grew with institutions of the State for articulating their grievances and became, ironically, the fourth pillar of the state, with whom it has an ambiguous relationship. In western democracies the media has worked as a mediating point between civil society and the State. It carries the problems of people to the state and returns back with the various messages from the State. It plays a creative role for providing legitimacy to the State in a democracy.
In Nigeria the media grew as a powerful institution during the national struggle. Many of the national leaders worked either for the media or contributed in a scholarly manner. It has been found that almost all regional papers came out during the national movement with some association with the nationalist leaders. In post-independence Nigeria it plays a creative role in articulating the interests of the developmental state as well as the grievances of people. Nigerian democracy, based on universal adult franchise, depends a lot on the media to strengthen its roots.
In the era of globalization, the media has enlarged its scope in a big way. The introduction of new technology and the liberalization policy pursued by the State worked to enlarge the scope of the media. The state does not have control over the media and viewership has got enlarged because of the expansion of the middle class. The changing role of the media needs to be studied.
The media has also enlarged its role as an entertainer. Both the news and views are sometimes projected with a view to entertain. In theory, globalization has allowed the foreign players to work in the Indian market but there are restrictions imposed by the State under pressure from the Indian media. At the same time the media has changed its format to that of the international media. These changes have brought about the question of the relevance of the media, which does not provide space for the rural masses. In the urban areas it does not provide the scope for the urban poor and is no more an inclusive institution. It has been accused of selling images rather than working for the role which it acquired during the heyday of liberal democracy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In providing good governance to its citizenry, the media has a major role to play, in placing the grievances of people before the managers of the state and pinpointing problems in the delivery mechanism.
Both for developing a culture of resolving issues through genuine politics and for ensuring development of all the idea of civil society is very useful. Civil society develops a civic sense which is the foundation stone of democracy. It deepens democracy in a country. It has been empirically found that strong democracy has been found in those countries where active civil society is found. The role of civil society has also been found to be quite useful in case of promoting development of all the sections of the population. It takes development to the grass roots level where the arms of state may be weak and private sector may be absent. The various case studies have shown that in areas such as poverty amelioration, ensuring public services for all, giving the benefits of various government schemes to their target groups and mobilizing the weaker sections of populace civil society organisations have made a salutary effect. Further in the changed philosophy of governance, a co-operative network among the government, market institutions and the civil society can only manage the whole lot of government responsibilities.
Culled from: GKBasic