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“Digitalisation Has Shaped And Will Continue To Shape This Convergence,” Five Years That Transformed The Way India Communicates

At the same time, projecting the scenario of the future "would be entering unchartered territory" but "three codundrums emerge clearly at the present moment".

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The difference between that "churn" and the contemporary scene today "is that the very pace of the change has exponentially accelerated as digital pathways allow global capital to access markets across the world more efficiently than ever. Pixabay

When Anna Hazare launched his India Against Corruption (IAC) in 2011, little did he realise the media convergence – some term it media disruption – the movement would cause over the next five years, unleashing a “spiral of mediatisation with its ever-widening gyres” that has forever changed the manner in which the country’s citizens and media outlets look at what constitutes news and its delivery.

“When hundreds and thousands of demonstrators converge at a particular spot in real time through Facebook posts and live television coverage; when newspapers get their leads from tweets put out by demonstrators ring-fenced by police; and when an election campaign speech at a rally in rural Madhya Pradesh reaches multiple audiences through WhatsApp, we are talking about radical transformations in the way converged media content is being transmitted, received, negotiated and acted upon in India,” journalist-author Pamela Philipose says in her new book.

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“Non-human processes will raise the speeds at which news/information is generated and it will be tailored to the needs and proclivities of discrete audiences and delivered to them with an unimaginable efficiency,” the author notes. Piixabay

“Digitalisation has shaped and will continue to shape this convergence,” Philipose writes in “Media’s Shifting Terrain – Five Years that Transformed the Way India Communicates” (Orient Blackswann/pp 302), covering the period from the launch of the IAC, through the Nirbhaya gang-rape of 2012, the arrival of the AAP and its brief stint in power in 2013, the rise of the BJP and Narendra Modi in 2014, and the AAP returning to power with an overwhelming majority in 2015.

A quarter century ago, the nature of media content was “fundamentally changed” by the 24×7 TV news cycle. The difference between that “churn” and the contemporary scene today “is that the very pace of the change has exponentially accelerated as digital pathways allow global capital to access markets across the world more efficiently than ever” Philipose notes.

Thus, the data gleaned from users will go to fuel the next wave of the information revolution through artificial intelligence (AI), bring about an era when large tech companies launch products “not for the revenue they bring through the content they circulate but through the data generated through such circulation of content, which can then be monetised through other products driven by AI”. Philipose writes.

“Non-human processes will raise the speeds at which news/information is generated and it will be tailored to the needs and proclivities of discrete audiences and delivered to them with an unimaginable efficiency,” the author notes.

So, if journalism underwent a “complete overhaul” with the age of satellite television, “media functioning in the digital age is undergoing multiple, shape-shifting disruptions, all of them occurring simultaneously along different axes”, the book points out.

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Hundreds and thousands of demonstrators converge at a particular spot in real time through Facebook posts and live television coverage. VOA

At the same time, projecting the scenario of the future “would be entering unchartered territory” but “three codundrums emerge clearly at the present moment”.

The first is the “asymmetrical nature” of access “largely because it is easier to achieve technological inclusion than social inclusion”.

The second conumdrum is that being digital have-nots “does not protect people from the dangers of the internet world, like privacy violations and digital disinformation or fake news”.

The third conundrum “is the drive for the control of audiences by a range of actors through various technological devices and strategies”.

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To this extent, Philipose writes, the electoral triumphs of a politician like Narendra Modi, not only in the 2014 general elction but also in a series of subsequent state elections, “were crucially hinged on the creation of hyper-partisanship through the most sophisticated use of media platforms and technologies that the country had ever seen”.

The impact of this “far outlived” the elections themselves, “with the consequent polarisation permiating Indian society and politics, and teams of ‘influencers’ set up for elections continuing to influence the political discourse through interventions like trolling and the coordinated generation of fake news”, the book concludes. (IANS)

Next Story

Netanyahu Personifies The Corrupting Force Of Power

What is sad about all this is that Netanyahu has all along put his self-interest above the party and the nation

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Having served as the longest prime minister in Israel’s history, insatiable hunger for power of Netanyahu and desperate need to escape the indictment was first and foremost in his mind. Wikimedia Commons

By Alon Ben-Meir

The long-anticipated indictment of Prime Minister Netanyahu has finally come to pass. For three years, Netanyahu spared no effort to scuttle three criminal cases against him, but failed. These charges and their implications have now become rather clear. They have occupied Netanyahu’s thinking as to how to save himself and maintain his position as Prime Minister. They have impacted Israel’s policies, in particular toward the Palestinians, and without a doubt the charges have adversely impacted Netanyahu’s efforts to form a government following the last two elections.

In the first case, Case 1000, Netanyahu is charged with receiving gifts from Hollywood film producer Arnon Milchan in return for political favors. In the second case, Case 2000, Netanyahu was accused of striking a deal with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes to provide Netanyahu with favorable coverage in return for politically targeting a rival newspaper. In Case 4000, the third charge, Netanyahu took steps to benefit his friend Shaul Elovitch, who controlled Bezeq, in return for favorable coverage on Bezeq’s news site Walla. The first two cases charged Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust; the third case added charges of bribery as well.

Netanyahu made a supreme effort all along to have these charges dismissed, claiming in the first case that it is acceptable to receive gifts from friends. In Case 2000, he claimed that he and Mozes were basically fooling each other and had no intention of following through, and argued in Case 4000 that asking for favorable coverage is not bribery.

In April of this year, Netanyahu continued his effort by initially trying to reinstate a 2005 immunity law which gave the Knesset House Committee the power to reject the Attorney General’s request to rescind immunity of any particular MK. In May, Netanyahu planned to push through a new law that would allow the Knesset to protect his immunity. This would have allowed the Knesset to ignore any High Court ruling on administrative matters, including potentially revoking Netanyahu’s immunity.

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For three years, Netanyahu spared no effort to scuttle three criminal cases against him, but failed. These charges and their implications have now become rather clear. Pixabay

And in July, realizing that he couldn’t pass such laws, Netanyahu claimed “No one is changing the law, it doesn’t need to be changed, and I won’t need it at all… it isn’t necessary at all because there has never been anything and there won’t be anything.”

The three indictments were a menacing dark cloud that hovered over Netanyahu’s head, and have had a significant impact on his political decisions. He sought to demonstrate that the charges were largely frivolous and that he is the indispensable leader that will safeguard Israel’s national security.

But the greater impact of these charges on his behavior was more related to the Palestinians. He needed to show toughness and an uncompromising position – not only to cement his right-of-center base, but to demonstrate that he is the only leader who can pursue policies consistent with Israel’s presumed national aspirations to control all of the ‘Land of Israel, including the West Bank. Other than continuing to expand and legalize settlements, he announced more than once that following the formation of a new government, Israel will annex significant chunks of the West Bank, to continue to please his base.

Perhaps the most important impact of the charges was his inability to form a government twice this year, in April and September. Because as a sitting prime minister he would not be indicted, he insisted that under no circumstances would he relinquish that position, knowing that an indictment against him will force him to face trial. This was given an even greater urgency after the second election, when he and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz attempted to form a unity government.

For the same reason, Netanyahu insisted that in a rotating prime ministership which both sides agreed upon, he would serve as prime minister for the first two years. Since Gantz refused, especially given Kahol Lavan’s larger mandate and Netanyahu’s pending indictment, Netanyahu is opting to go for a third election within a year, hoping against hope that he will emerge as the winner with a greater mandate to form a new government.

What is sad about all this is that Netanyahu has all along put his self-interest above the party and the nation. Having served as the longest prime minister in Israel’s history, Netanyahu’s insatiable hunger for power and desperate need to escape the indictment was first and foremost in his mind.

For a man who professes to love his country and has dedicated all his life in the service of the state, he failed to grasp that in the final analysis, Israel’s survival has not and will never depend on a single individual. Had he indeed been concerned with the welfare and the security of Israel, he would have agreed to serve in a rotating unity government with Gantz on Kahol Lavan’s terms, and spared the country the pain of going through a third election. His failure, and the subsequent failure of Gantz himself to form a government, may well push Israel now toward its third election in a single year.

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Perhaps the most important impact of the charges was inability of Netanyahu to form a government twice this year, in April and September. Because as a sitting prime minister he would not be indicted, he insisted that under no circumstances would he relinquish that position, knowing that an indictment against him will force him to face trial. Pixabay

In an open letter to Netanyahu in October, I wrote “It’s time for you to go. There is nothing you can do that others cannot do just as good if not better. Resign your post; turn to the Attorney General to drop the charges against you. The nation will forgive you for your good intentions and some deeds… Unless you want to end up in jail just like your predecessor, spare the nation the humiliation and pain.”

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Sadly, he did not heed such advice, regardless of its source, and now he may very well end up in jail and stigmatize Israel for having been led by corrupt leaders who seem to have always put their personal self-interest above that of the nation.

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Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.