How would you like the news you read or listen to? You want the truth. Yet there’s news that’s reported independently and news that is not — it may be true, coloured by propaganda or just plain fake news. A free press may deliver all these.
Even so, when the press in a nation is free, chances are we as readers will get much more truth than anything else. We who think and make choices will gradually move towards reading newspapers or watching TV channels that are free and unbiased and disliking those that are not.
Freedom of the press is essential to a democracy, where the Press is often referred to as The Fourth Estate, meaning a fourth power and deriving from the historic three greatest powers in a realm: the king, the clergy and commoners. In fact, the great man who may have first used this phrase in the year 1787 pointed to the press gallery in the British parliament and said: “… there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”
Mohan Sivanand is a journalist and artist. He was with Reader’s Digest for 32 years, serving as the magazine’s India Editor-in-Chief for a decade until his retirement in 2015. He teaches journalism at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai.