Public opinion is the opinion which the people in general hold on questions of public interest of a certain time. Democracy, being the Government of the people, by the people and for the people, seeks people’s opinion on various issues. It can not ignore people’s reaction to its policies. No government would like to be in power only for one time.
It would like to come back to power again after the next election. Coming back to power depends on the next election which in turn depends on people’s opinion of its work when it was in power.
Strong public opinion plays a very significant role in the capturing of powers, forming government arid also retaining ne government in the consecutive elections public opinion dips in creating such a condition where the government cannot or to misrule or neglect the country. An alert and intelligent olic opinion which keeps itself informed cannot be taken for ride by the government.
The government also knows that disregarding the aspirations of such a public will make it unpopular instantly and the chance of its coming back to power in the next election becomes remote. Thus public opinion plays a significant role in determining the role of the government.
But public opinion is not always reliable. The people in general are fickle, ignorant and are usually moved by their feelings and not by their power of reasoning. Hence, they can be easily misguided. In a country like India, where the masses are by and large illiterate and ignorant, it is very easy to misguide them and distort their views.
Therefore correct and reliable public opinion is very necessary for the success of democracy. In this respect, the Print Media such as newspapers, magazines, journals and the electronic media such as radio, television or cinema can be of great help needless to say that the press carries the news of the world.
Public opinion depends to a large extent, on this press. Newspaper reports, if given correctly, helps in the formulation of right kind of public opinion. Newspapers offer citicism as well as suggestions for improving the public opinion. They not only ventilate public grievances but also try to voice the feelings, and view of the people.
But sometimes the press gives biased news which harms a lot. The public is misled and their opinion is inflamed in such circumstances. It has been seen that some newspapers use fiery language and give hot headlines in words to attract the attention of the masses. As a result people fail to discriminate the right thing from the wrong. Different people come to diffrent conclusions according to different perceptions of their own about the same event.
What is important is correct reporting. The press enjoys immense power and therefore it should not misuse them. Instead it should exercise those powers in forming a healthy atmosphere by dint of a healthy public opinion.
Importance of radio, television or cinema (Electronic Media) in the formulation of public opinion can never be overlooked specially in a country like India, where the precentage o illiterate persons is so high. Radio and television broadcast national and intrnational news and educate the people. The leaders of various political parties also express their views of radio and television. Cinema is also important source information of public opinion. It often depicts about comet problems like untouchability, dowry, smuggling, terrorism, etc.
Thus the press and other media of public communication as mentioned above should work in a very responsible manner. Otherwise disorder will be noticed everywhere. We must remember that public opinion is there for the good of the people and not for doing harm for them.