The media diplomacy has greatly evolved and changed over the past decades with the progress discerning from beginning days of traditional printing press to the ever changing “Internet of Things”. The influential power and social responsibility of media in providing awareness of the current events around the world and to communicate the right information is exceptional in upholding governance.
The theory of “good governance” has been widely discussed and is being increasingly used in development literature. According to UNESCO (2005), good governance includes notions of greater participation by civil society in decision-making, anti-corruption, transparency and accountability. Good governance protects and advances human rights and is often seen as a means to sustainable development and the reduction of poverty. Good governance involves putting people at the center of development and has a wide connotations, it is synonymous with securing justice, empowerment, employment and efficient delivery of services. Achieving good governance requires the understanding and participation of every member of the society. There is a wide acceptance of the roles of the media, in corroborating good governance by the governments and policy makers across the world.
Governance progresses through architecture of democracy designed by people. Healthy democracy requires that people should have the right to know all the activities of the government, particularly the decisions of the government that affects their life and liberty. Information is very vital for people to make decisions regarding their involvement in the state. Adequate information helps the citizens to decide reasonably and take the right course of action favorable to them. Media happen to be the most efficient mode of delivering information to the common man and enable him to make an educated choice for the betterment nation. Media speaks for the people, represents the interests of the society, and serves as a check on the government. This ensures wider access to information, through the enactment of freedom of information legislation, ensures greater citizen participation in governance. This allows for maximum verifiability of information and allows all stakeholders to come to the table equally on important issues. Media thus helps people to know what is happening around the world and socialize them with the values of pluralism promoting good governance is.
The media’s “watch dog” role stands on safeguarding the transparency of process in democratic nation. The vigilant participation of mass media is essential in a democratic society. Bureaucracies have grown into large, often opaque entities, practices of secrecy often cover the hidden interests of particular sectors beyond their stated missions becoming hurdle to good governance. Transparency is a fundamental precept in good governance everywhere. Transparency ensures that information is available that can be used to measure the authorities’ performance and to guard against any possible misuse of powers. Greater transparency in public administration allows for checks on these possible conflicts of interest and ensures greater legitimacy for the government.
Furthermore, accountability is closely identified with transparency. Transparency focuses on the practices of public administration, accountability points to the responsibility for judging those practices and their effectiveness by various entities. Accountability includes a sense of moral accountability to the public with various kinds of sanctions guaranteed by the rule of law. While most forms of state government include internal regimes of accountability, accountability to the public is critical to the legitimating of a democratic society. In an atmosphere in which the public is free to examine the transactions of the government and to hold its representatives accountable for their actions, the public simultaneously takes responsibility for the functioning of their government through this form of participation.
The media also make public services more responsive to the people and achieves greater participation of citizens in a democratic processes by providing a platform for voices which is one of the key element of good governance. A multiplicity of voices means that differing perspectives will be heard. These differences are so critical in fostering democratic dialogue and moving forward as a country and as a society. Greater participation is crucial for good governance in two ways- greater participation by citizens in the decision-making process allows greater transparency and can help ensure that political decisions are adapted to the needs of the people affected by them. Second, greater participation is important for democratic authenticity. The media also has a critical role to mediate between the state and citizens by giving citizen a voice in the major issues and informing people about the stand of their leaders on such issues. Along these lines, the media strengthens Government’s and civil society’s capacity to sustain public input and participation in the decision making process preceding way to good governance. The channels of communication contributes to the participation process, especially in arenas where face-to-face participation is not possible. An open and free media can play an important role in the fight against poverty. Firstly, by on the one hand increasing the accountability of both businesses and governments, and on the other allowing citizens to make better informed decisions, it promotes and encourages good governance, without which the battle against poverty cannot be won. Secondly, by acting as a watchdog against corruption, it can help ensure that greater importance be attached to development issues in the allocation of resources, while at the same time strengthening the institutions responsible for promoting the overall development of society.
Media contributes to the empowerment of citizens through publicizing educational programs. The media can play a salutary role in creating larger awareness of human rights that would in turn protects rights. Another important role of media is to function as a civic forum for political debate, facilitating informed electoral choices and actions by citizens. A free and fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote, but also about a participatory process where voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates and the election process itself in order to make informed choices. It also gives them the opportunity to express citizen’s views and have a say in the election of decision-makers, thus increasing the chances of a more efficient governance system.
The channels of communication reflecting the cultural and diversity of the society, in a fair and balanced manner, allows various opinion and different voices to be heard in public debates. The media allows for ongoing checks and assessments by the population of the activities of government and assist in bringing public concerns by providing a platform for discussion. The media, their significant roles are considered to be the most powerful weapon to make good governance a certainty. Nevertheless achieving good governance requires the understanding and participation of every member of society.
-Sindhu Rani (Freelancer)
Picture Credits: thedailystar.net