Future of journalism in India better with social media

Last updated: November 29, 2016

When it comes to journalism, there is an opinion that mainstream newspapers right from The Times of India to herds following it betrayed. What is expected from newspapers is reporting with a human touch. On the contrary, these popular newspapers contradicted themselves by advocating for an ethical society in their editorial pages while promoting illicit life-style elsewhere in the name of commercial ads, indecent contents to push sales.

Reports about improving economic conditions and lifestyle in India are often exaggerated. Those who make such claims are frequently beneficiaries of the system. Booker Prize Winner Arundhati Roy is one Indian woman writer who is dissatisfied with the prevailing status. She refutes claims by the Indian government and even Nobel laureate Amartya Sen of significant improvement in the life of the poor people. Addressing a prominent business school in the UK, while economist Sen expressed satisfaction and called development in India an example to be followed, writer Anundhati Roy completely disagreed. She charged the government, the military and the police, the corporate sector, the media and the upper and middle classes. As reported by The Telegraph: “Amartya Sen and Arundhati Roy have presented sharply contrasting portraits of Indian democracy in their public pronouncements in the UK, with the Nobel Prize winner generally holding it up as an example to the world and the Booker Prize winner deploying her pretty looks and eloquence to trash the government, the military and the police, the corporate sector, the media and the upper and middle classes.

For centuries, money lenders have exploited poor farmers and peasants in this country. With democracy, they are a victim of corruption. Business owners in India frequently fudge data. Understating profit not only helps them grab profit without paying taxes but also makes them eligible to avail vivid state subsidies and loans for business revival. Laborers in private factories are frequently allocated residential quarters with below-standard sanitation facilities despite the factory making large profits. There is little doubt that workers without a vibrant trade union can be brutally exploited. All these indirectly mean depriving the marginal section of the society a rightful share of the resource. (Of late, the demonetisation drive by PM Narendra Modi of November 8, 2016 appears to be a step with good intention but there are reservations if the same could control generation of black income.)

Interest in social media is perhaps not just because of technology. Readers are suddenly finding themselves empowered. Now, one is not forced to experience passively anger of a news reporter over hawkers taking over posh locality in a metropolitan city. Neutral readers may question that hawkers too are part of the society and victim of corruption. Social media like Twitter will see a flurry of negative comments from dissatisfied readers. Citizen journalism offers a platform which takes into account emotions of readers. This is important. Here lies the importance of citizen journalism which prompts towards impartiality. Take the recent Delhi gang rape case. Twitter users protested against the use of term ‘eve teasing‘ and advocated for keeping the identity of the victim private. Many of the protesters were themselves women (housewives, college girls) giving them the authority to express anger over what hurts them.

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