Why is the media important in a democracy?

We live in a democracy, which means we get a say in who runs the country and we have rights to freedom of expression.

People vote in elections to decide who runs the country. To do this it is important that they know what politicians say and do and what impact this has. We find this out through the media.

Free press

One of the important rights in a democracy is a free press. This means that:

  • People who report the news should be allowed to do their jobs without the government telling them what to do.
  • Journalists should be safe to investigate and report on news stories without fear of being punished for what they report.
Freedom of press means journalists shouldn't worry about government intervention or punishment

The media serves an important role in providing investigative reports, debate, discussion, background and analysis, as well as news stories.

Photograph of the Question Time panel
Television programmes like Question Time serve an important role in questioning the government, politicians and other public officials
Question

Why do you think the freedom of press is important?

If you lived in a country where the newspapers and TV news only reported what the government wanted then:

  • you would never know the truth about what was going on
  • you wouldn’t be able to criticise the government when they did something wrong
curriculum-key-fact
The media has a responsibility to report accurately and not make things up. They also can’t print or broadcast content that attacks people or is discriminatory, eg racist or homophobic.