Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The News Media is For Sale

One of the key findings from the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is related to the role of the media. India has made a fundamental shift in this regard in the last two decades - from being a state monopoly, there are now hundreds of private media outlets in a variety of formats. And they are all up for sale.

But this was known well-before: the corporate news media depends on advertising and equity, so their reporting is bound to be colored by it. However, what 2014 taught us is that politicians too can get into that game, not just through Paid News or fixing interviews, but by being the media itself: the BJP's successful campaign was built on the back of a powerful social media strategy and a system of planted stories (which were not necessarily untrue).

Indeed, one of the reasons for the Congress' defeat was its pathetic management of the media of all forms. The media is a powerful instrument today, with a majority of Indian households having access to one, but it is a pliable instrument. Every election hence will certainly be played out there.  

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