The issue of having media available that is independent and is not being censored is especially important for minority communities. Without an independent press, minorities are apprehensive to share their experiences and voice their opinions and needs. An independent press has been an integral player in gaining public support for new ideas, even the idea of revolting or overthrowing existing rule.
What is acceptable under the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression has been debated since it was instituted in India. In fact, it is one that has come under fire in recent years as there have been attempts by Hindu Nationalists to dismiss any “anti-national” thoughts and opinions from national media.
The Indian media highlights issues that are facing its most interior populations. It is the media that has its finger on the pulse of the people and give some direction to Indian democracy. However, not all groups feel represented; especially as there has been a rise in Hindu Nationalist sentiments since BJP has come into power. This is why The Eastern Post was started – to give a voice (in English) to the Muslim minority in West Bengal.
For the last several years, the conflict between Hindus and Muslims has been on the rise in West Bengal. There have been violent clashes with several wounded and many injured. It is argued that this conflict is the result of political parties pitting religious sentiments against one another. As a minority group, The Eastern Post helps the Muslims of West Bengal understand the issues being experienced in the context of their faith and their community.
As the Internet reaches the masses print media is struggling to keep up. Once a weekly journal, The Eastern Post, was forced to transition to a monthly publication. It has come under scrutiny for being one-sided and highlighting and projecting only Muslim problems. However, the publication argued that all of its journalists must be impartial so that they simply shared the information, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. Reported news must be fact-checked so that only accurate information is shared with the public. The Eastern Post aims to bring about change in West Bengal by sharing unbiased information related to news and happenings that directly affect communities throughout the region.
This issue of providing news that is solely based on facts and is of growing importance as more and more people get their news from social media. The responsibility of factual reporting falls on the shoulders of journalists and publications they write for, given that human nature is to simply share content without fully reading, understanding, or double-checking that what they are sharing is true.
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The power of media is immense and serves as the fourth pillar of democracy. The media can insight a revolt against existing governments and can reshape public opinion. Therefore, those in the media are responsible for making sure the content that they publish is not inflammatory but rather focuses on the facts of the issues affecting their audience.