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Media – the 4th pillar of democracy?

If a 4th pillar was added to democracy, what according to you would be the best fit?

Of the people, for the people, by the people – that’s what democracy is all about. A democracy is a form of government where the people chooses their own leaders by voting and by exercising their free thought and opinion into making an informed decision about who or what would be the best fit as a leader for the collective population and the state. The term democracy need not apply to a form of government only. Organizations and situations can be democratic as well, where everyone is treated equally with respect and share equal rights. Democracy stands on three sturdy pillars – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, where each arm works independently and together to build a strong infrastructure that everyone can benefit from. Interestingly, this opens up an age old debate which states that democracy has an additional fourth pillar which is as important (if not more) than the rest – and that fourth pillar is media. Media has evolved greatly over the years. From a very traditional unidirectional medium, media has grown to become one of the biggest influencers of thought and opinion. Multi-faceted and a power house of its own, media, both traditional and new age, has time and again proven its impact on the state, organizations and the people. Irrespective of the fact that, like everything, media too has its pros and cons, here’s why it should be considered as the fourth pillar of democracy.

Informs

Freedom of information is one of the things we associate with a democracy. Anything that constitutes a democracy needs to enable the people or an entity to consume information, irrespective of whether it is positive or negative and the media does exactly that. Be it traditional or mew age, media gives its consumers the freedom to access information, not only locally, but from around the world, in a candid and an open manner, thereby facilitating the right to freedom of information. At the end of the day if you’re not informed, you can’t act and if you can’t act, there’s no democracy.

Educates

Media educates and it also sensitizes the mass into becoming more receptive towards what is going on around the world. Making an effort to know what’s going on not only in your country but across the world is key and the best way to do this is by educating yourself about it. Whether it’s war or peace, politics or fashion & lifestyle, as responsible citizens we should all look for avenues that allows us to increase our knowledge not only in things that we like, but everything that affects society because only once we’re educated can we take a call on what we should do about it, and media helps us do exactly that.

Makes you think

Anything that facilitates people to think plays an integral part in any democracy. The greatest prison that people can live in is an empty mind that is incapable of forming its own opinions. Since inception, media has played an active role in presenting people with instances that enables them to think and form opinions. While there’s a lot of debate on the media being accused of negatively influencing the thoughts of people on a particular topic or an occurring, the fact remains that it still motivates you to get those grey cells going. Moreover, media helps us socialize, network and identify people who share common opinions which in turn helps us actively think and figure out the best way to move forward even more.

Facilitates freedom of action

Freedom of information is of use only once we decide to act. Since in a democracy the government is run by the people, it becomes crucial that the people therefore are willing to act to bring about a positive change in the society that they live in. In this particular situation, the involvement of the media being a facilitator of positive change is something that has been subject to severe debate, as many feel that it does not always encourage actions that lead to the betterment of society or communities. However, at the end of the day, the media does facilitate action and provides the people an opportunity to act freely upon what they feel strongly, which helps cementing its place as the fourth pillar of democracy.

Ever Evolving

Last but not the least, one of the biggest plus points of a democracy is that it is constantly evolving and growing along with the generations of people that constitute it. It is this ability to grow and adapt itself to changing times that makes democracy such a powerful form of government. Similar to this growth pattern is the ever evolving nature of the media. From traditional media to new age and social media that is now dominating the world, the media industry has been constantly evolving itself to keep up with the times and so far, it has done a great job of keeping up. With everyday revealing new and more innovative ways by which news and information is being disseminated to the people, the ever evolving nature of media is what makes its addition as the fourth pillar of democracy, seamless!

Media can be a boon as well as a bane, at the end of the day, it is up to you to either make the most of its advantages or get consumed by its short comings.

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