I believe that the media should be watchdog for public policy issues. It has a moral obligation of making sure that citizens of a country are not in the dark regarding issues of the public policy. By virtue of its wide outreach among the general populations, the media has the capacity of ensuring that the citizens get accurate information regarding crucial aspects of their lives.
The media enjoys a substantial amount of goodwill among the members of the public. It is usually held at a high esteem due to its perceived nonpartisan approach on issues. The citizens look upon the media to highlight issues that ordinary people are not capable of rising. Due to this scenario, it is only but fair that the media reciprocate this goodwill by being a watchdog for public policy issues. By doing this, the media would have gone a long way in safeguarding the welfare of the citizens.
Another reason I believe that the media should be a public watchdog on policy issues its perceived ability of setting a national agenda. There is no other single organization which can set and regulate a national agenda the way the media does (Bill,2008). The media can use this ability to the advantage of the members of the public in safeguarding their interests. It can also join forces with the members of the civil society in executing the role of the public watchdog.
It is evident that the media is executing its role of watchdog with zeal and passion. For example, the media has been in the forefront of exposing any corruption scandals and looting of public funds. The scenario has been evidenced not only in America, but also across the world. In the most recent times, the South African media took pride in exposing a mega scandal which involved President Jacob Zuma. He was accused of illegally using public funds to renovate his private residence.
Another evidence that illustrates that the media is acting as a public watchdog is the eloquent way it has been exposing incidences of gross violation of human rights. In Syria, the media has been reporting of the horrific killings of citizens as results of civil strife between the royal forces and the rebels. It has also exposed the savage way in which children are recruited in the army that is a contrast of the United Nations ideals.
The media has been executing its role of being a public watchdog properly. It has been able to probe and scrutinize the character and background of people aspiring to hold public offices. The approach has ensured that only people who are of good moral standings are entrusted with the responsibility of leading the people. For example, when the media exposed that the former head of World Bank was accused of rape allegations; He was forced to resign from his post. Another person whose reputation was beyond reproach was appointed on his behalf (Hayes, 2008).
The media has been able to act as an independent observer in general elections. The role has prevented incidences of election malpractices. Where it suspects any frauds, it usually reports them to the concerned bodies and also to the members of the general public. The approach has gone a long way in boosting the people’s confidence on the electoral system.
Consolidation of the media and proliferation of unique news sources has negatively affected the media on its role as watchdog on public policy issues. The situation has reduced its efficiency in transmitting vital information that could affect the lives of the members of the public. It may also be used by rogue governments to curtail the media freedom.
- Hayes, A. S. (2008). Press critics are the fifth estate: media watchdogs in America. Westport, Conn.: Pager.
- Bill, G.B. (2004). Washington, DC (1625 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 300, Washington 20036): Media Matters for America.