Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 20th, 2019

The Role of Press in Democratic System

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The Role of Press in Democratic System

The press as a civil society entity is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy in political system and can play an important role in creating appropriate environment for cultural and political development. Generally, the press freedom is one of the important indicators of political development. If the press acts independently and free, it can find its true place in society; the press not only act as a powerful tool in construction of good culture but also act as the most effective means of guiding society towards national interests of the country. The freedom of the pen and the press is a part of the freedom of expression. Freedom of the press means that “people have the right to publish their thoughts and opinions through written or verbal media, without asking permission from authorities.
The main feature of active and dynamic press in a democratic and republic system consist of presenting realistic and critical analysis about current issues, raising public awareness and broadcasting public opinion to the government while acting as steering driver through exerting public pressure on government.  But the government is not considered accountable unless people are aware of its activities. This awareness is not possible except through mass media, including independent and private press. Freedom of expression and press are the essence of the republic and democratic government system; the freedom of speech and press means that every citizen has the right to comment and reflect his opinion like others. To this end, individuals have the right to search and access all kinds of information and ideas through media. Here, when we are speaking about freedom of speech, it includes freedom of government oppositions. Therefore, the art of government is not to dissuade its opponents from political scene, but the art of government is to instigate its opponents in contributing with political system through their opinions within the framework of the law.
In fact, the freedom of the press is part of freedom that has been given to the mankind for the growth of human excellence. This freedom is the requirements of social and political life, and is a means of imparting thoughts, exchanging information and transferring the heritage of humanity. It is also a good place for dialogue and cultural exchange between different civilizations and cultures. The social enlightenment and the growth of public opinion can only be done in the shadow of the press, and so the pens must be free so that they can publish the facts. Therefore, the political regime cannot claim of being republic and a democratic unless ensure the freedom of the press.
Generally, the press is very effective in the development of public opinion. The press has been termed as the “fourth pillar of democracy, due the crucial role it plays in a democratic system. The press is a source from which people find the realities. The role of press is to influence the public opinion by reflecting news, discussing about the events and talking about policies of different political groups. However, some news systems are trying to keep people in a closed world with a very low level of thoughts and information. The purpose of such news systems is to fool the people. They want to immerse people with an unrealistic, artificial and absurd environment so as not to be aware of real issues of the society.  But if the media are truly independent and free from preference of self-interests, they can have humanitarian and philanthropic activities and also able to neutralize the effects of deviating news system.
The press is a great force in the new democratic government. “In the last century, the emergence of the press has greatly contributed to the development of democracy,” Divorzha said. The press enables the governments to maintain constant contact with the public and receive criticisms and suggestions for better governance. Freedom of the press not only covers the public complaints but also tries to reflect the deep feelings and opinions of the people as they see.
Given the important role of the press in shaping public opinion, it needs to be monitored. The mass media should not be monopolized by few people for the sake of their self-interests.  It is generally agreed that the free and neutral press is necessary for the success of democratic government.  As without accessing to accurate information and news, accurate judgment about public and political decisions is not possible, and so press considered the best means of publishing correct information. The freedom of press is the real feature of democratic system. The emphasis on the freedom of the press and publications also articulated in Article Fourth of the national Constitution. Accordingly, Every Afghan has the right to express his opinion by speech, writing, image or other means without prior permission of the government.
Overall, the dominance of government institutions on the press or monopoly of the press by very few people is on contrary to general spirit of democracy. Wherever, the news broadcast in a uniform way it indicates that democracy is threatened. Whenever, news reports are distributed from certain addresses, everyone is impressed monotonously. Because all people obtain the same information, their minds are made into a same template. Thus, the community is deprived of the diverse and competitive contexts, which is the desperate need of every democratic and creative system. In such cases, the possibility of censorship, the removal of important information, will become usual. Likewise, the possibility of exaggerating one part of news and belittling the other part would become also possible. When people get inaccurate information, it is natural not to have a real understanding of the events.
Meanwhile, freedom of the press does not mean that everyone can publish whatever he/she wants; rather it means, they are safe from pressure of the ruling class and able to reflect the reality to people as it is.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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