Media is the means of communication that reaches or influences people widely, has a significant place in the statecraft machinery especially in the age of information revolution. It is the source of information for a society regarding any issue be it local, regional or global, people rely and even trust on what is presented to them by media.
The media has become an important tool of the statecraft in the modern era. It is the 'fourth estate' which helps the state to further its interests, objectives and goals .
Therefore, media act as an influential and instrumental tool with regards to building confidence or promoting mistrust among people on issues related to national security.
Technology has endowed the electronic media with three major attributes -
i) Instantaneity: Instantaneity has provided it with a ringside view in real time,
ii) Spontaneity: Spontaneity has allowed it cover events as they unfold
iii) Locality: Locality has provided it with the power to bring the farthest corner of the globe into a household.
This has also enhanced the reach and, therefore, the hold of the electronic media over the viewers' minds. It has, however, also given rise to a multiplicity of players in this field, with consequential concerns of accountability, responsibility and public good.
• It is, therefore necessary to ensure that the media is prompt, responsible, sensitive, accurate and objective in its presentation of news. In the context of maintenance of public order, the role of the media could go a long way in preventing rumour mongering and incorrect or mischievous coverage by a small section of the media which could be supportive of partisan elements.
• The central issue is how to have an effective interface with the media. Given the technological environment in which the media functions today, the fact that there is no monopoly over sources of information and the need to have an informed public, control measures are neither feasible nor desirable.
• It is incumbent on the administration to continuously provide the media with immediate, accurate and reliable information so that, the public is not left with gaps in their information which might be filled by sensational and biased news reporting. This requires capability building at various levels of the administrative machinery so as to provide a transparent and responsive administration.
• To ensure that government officials interact with the media in a professional manner, media management modules should be integrated in various training programmes. Media persons may also be associated with such training modules. Emphasis on local language media would obviously be useful.
• In hierarchical structures within the government, interaction with the media is generally regulated to avoid confusion and contradictions. To overcome such hindrances, officials should be designated at appropriate levels to interact with the media and their accessibility should be ensured.
Thus to maintain internal security following principles have to be followed:
• Ensuring the objective presentation of news and fair and unbiased comment, to promote the advancement of education and culture.
• Raising and maintain high standards of decency and decorum in all programmes.
• Providing programmes for the young which, by variety and content, will inculcate the principles of good citizenship.
• Promoting communal harmony, religious tolerance and international understanding.
• Treating controversial public issues in an impartial and dispassionate manner.
• Respecting human rights and dignity.
Ideally, media should be impartial and free from the propaganda mechanisms. It should provide balanced account to the people. Media educates and keeps the public informed about the national and international political and other human realities taking place in everyday life. The purpose of media is to highlight the trouble spots in the society and press the government and public to devise suitable mechanisms to eliminate those troubles.
However, the potential of media as a force multiplier and a weapon of war must be realized. Failure to recognize and counter enemy’s usage of media could lead to unprecedented military and national failures. It must be realized that today decisions are no longer based on events but on how the events are presented.