The News Moment and its Political Dimension
All governments, no matter democratic or dictatorial, want to have their citizens under control. In fact governance also includes the act of controlling those who are being governed. Exercising power was rather easier in the past when the penetration of media was too limited. The days when news media were few in number, it was easier for the people in power to control the news flow as it was enough to check and control few nodal points through which the information reached the public. Things have changed altogether in this digital era resulting in the proliferation of the platforms through which information flow among people. In this era of social networking literally a torrent of information flow channels have mushroomed. The nodal points of news flow is not just few but rather infinite now.
The proliferation of news media, both digital and print, has also resulted in tough competition amid the media agencies/channels to bring out the news at the first place. It’s more of existential compulsion and desperate attempt to retain the readers/viewers.
More recently for those who follow the media it might’ve been easier to notice the modus operandi of the news reporting. From an era where news reporting we’ve now moved on to ‘news making’. What else could a 24×7 news channel do to feed their viewers? They are left with very few unfruitful options other than news making.
The political sensitivity of any news is not just about the content alone. At the first glance you might not agree with me. But it is. Apart from the content of the news- any news, no matter what, the moment it hits the news rooms and that which start trending across the social networking platforms has more politicized motives than a direct news on politics itself.
Let me just bring just two news moments, one national and the other state news, rather than taking pains to explain the core intention of this written piece.
The ruling central government’s leaning towards the corporate and the Prime Minister Mr.Modi’s soft corner towards them becomes a subject of heated debate ever since they assumed power last May. Few weeks back the storming news about Bollywood actor Aamir Khan’s comment on intolerance became the hot cake for media. I’m noting it to comment on the very issue, because a lot has been already spoken about, from all corners. The point we should note here is just days before this Aamir’s comment hit the headlines, another Bollywood star SRK on his birthday had expressed a similar view on tolerance, joining his voice on the tolerance debate that’s running steamy for months now. There were oppositions, charges leveled against him for his comment on SRK, both by BJP leaders and the party cadres bellowed their anguish by even burning his effigies on street. No doubt Aamir also met the same fate. But while the SRK’s remark was left in air in just few days the reaction to Aamir’s comment lived more. Or was it deliberately sustained? While this debate became the eye of the storm and the media people covered the progress of the news from toe to head and the news trended virally across social platforms. While the entire nation was busy debating on Aamir not many of us could have noticed the news about State owned ONGC gas shifted to Reliance Industries fields.
The rest self explanatory! Dot.
Another example is from the state of Tamil Nadu, which hit national headlines during the recent torrential rain falls across the state, paralyzing Chennai city and ravaging Cuddalore district (along with few other districts). The media began to zero in to the reasons behind the unprecedented floods and widely reported on the short comings in the governance of the ruling AIADMK government. Besides the arrogant code of conduct of the party cadres attracted much coverage and this amassed heavy criticism and public disgrace among those who have already grieving form the irrevocable losses of the floods.
The netizens took the social networking sites by storm and the rancor against the ruling government rose mercurially. Just days before ‘the Beep song’ controversy sparked that turned into a wild fire overnight. Actor STR and youth music heartthrob composer Aniruth have worked on a song that leaked in the internet. The controversy centers around the defamatory lyrics of the song that degrades women and the women’s associations and feminists took on to the streets. The social media across the Tamil speaking netizens is on fire too. Amid all the fuss around this issue the discussion on Chennai Floods and its aftermath got totally eroded.
Again it’s self explanatory! Dot!
The political sensitivity of any news is not just about the content alone. The moment it hits the media makes any news political.