Freedom of the press, though guaranteed in the Constitution and subject only to reasonable restrictions on narrowly specified grounds, cannot be taken for granted. It calls for constant vigil against authority that is uncomfortable with the outing of truth, against intolerant groups, against quick-on-the-draw litigants, over-sensitive public men, judges seeking to protect a false sense of dignity and a host of others.
In addition to a struggle against all these, media needs to introspect and see how it can gain the support of public opinion, which is the surest guarantee that the freedom will endure.
Viewpoints may differ widely, but good, fair and responsible journalism is always acknowledged and appreciated. One cannot, of course, prescribe norms for media and freedom should be available to what one may consider bad journalism as well, subject only to legal restrictions. Yet, good journalism would be an effective answer to those purpose-oriented critics who ask “For what purpose, media freedom?”, and help gain the confidence of the public.
N Ravi is President, Editors Guild of India and former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu