Monday February 24, 2020
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When ‘trending’ deaths matter more

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While media claims to be the fourth pillar of democracy in India, recent trends in catering news indicates a paradigm shift in the basic principles of the news organisations.

With the increasing prominence of new media, print media is slowly limping towards an untimely death. Taking undue advantage of the situation, news channels are vying with each other in sensationalizing news.

And, in a bid to stay ahead of the pack, news channels overhype one story suddenly and eclipse another one. In this process the actual objective of the media is forgotten.

Salman Khan hit-and-run case verdict vs TMC leaders Mamata and Mukul dining together

Media in West Bengal went berserk with news channels flashing news of estranged stalwarts of the Trinamool Congress dining together. Following the Sharada fiasco and the CBI crackdown, Mukul Roy parted ways with his ‘Didi’ (Mamata Banerjee).

The news that could have set the tone for the assembly polls was eclipsed by the verdict on the hit and run case involving Bollywood superstar Salman Khan.

The Bombay High Court acquitted the Bollywood Star from all criminal charges in alleged hit-and-run case. The verdict swept the attention towards Bollywood with news channels holding panel discussions on the functioning of the Indian judiciary.

Chennai floods vs Paris attack

The ISIS attack on Paris was a man-made disaster while the Chennai flood was not. The attack was undeniably condemnable, but it were the strategies of some global powerful men that led to the massacre. But the calamity that struck Chennai and other neighboring regions had no human motive behind it.

But Indian media highlighted the Paris attack and the Chennai people were left deprived. While the death of over 125 people in the attack made the headline, the death of over 150 persons in the flood was not worthy enough to make it to the top stories.

Since ‘Paris attack’ news was ‘trending’, the news channels pounced on it to have the edge over their competitors.

Some might call the Paris victims as ‘martyrs’ but media had no name for those who ‘gave their lives in the flood’.

CBI raid on Kejriwal office vs Shakur Basti demolition

In a bid to get political mileage, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pounced upon the opportunity and belittled the BJP-led government. He went to the extent to call the Railways officials as ‘animals’. As a result, Kejriwal with all his tantrums was all over the media.

However, the media was once again at its canny best when the very next day it aired that Kejriwal’s office was raided by the CBI.

The Shakur Basti vanished from the scene.

It is the media that has the power to make people laugh, cry, think and build consensus. And it does. But does it serve the noble cause of being the fourth pillar of democracy? Or media has become a corporate entity filling up the coffers of the owners.

“The nation wants to know?”

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Social Media Usage Can Lead You To Have More Diverse News Consumption

For their study, the researchers used a statistical model to calculate the estimated daily usage of news content in order to isolate the extent of incidental or unplanned contact with news items

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Social Media
In the case of traditional media such as television and newspapers, people often only see the news if they deliberately choose to do so, but this doesnt apply on social media. Pixabay

Turning conventional wisdom on its head, researchers have found that use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, or search engine Google actually results in more visits to news sites and a greater variety of news sites visited.

This runs counter to what has been postulated to date as it is often assumed that the use of social networks and search engines has had a negative impact on the diversity of news that people access.

This is often attributed to the algorithmic filtering used by these intermediaries, which only displays information that corresponds to the individual users’ interests and preferences.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contradicts this widespread conjecture.

“Anyone visiting Facebook or Google is much more likely to come into contact with news items. Therefore the use of these intermediaries is an important mechanism in the consumption of news on the Internet,” said Frank Mangold of the University of Hohenheim in Germany.

The research team attributes this to the concept of incidental exposure to news.

In the case of traditional media such as television and newspapers, people often only see the news if they deliberately choose to do so.

On intermediary platforms they can also come into contact with news by chance, if, for example, their contacts share news content with them or they come across interesting articles when checking their emails.

According to the researchers, the study’s findings could have significant political and social implications, as they disprove the notion of the formation of filter bubbles and echo chambers.

“Previous debates have, in many respects, revolved around the fear that online media would lead to new social barriers,” said Professor Michael Scharkow of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany. “However, our findings show that social media and search engines in fact have great potential to break down existing barriers,” Scharkow said.

For their study, the researchers used a statistical model to calculate the estimated daily usage of news content in order to isolate the extent of incidental or unplanned contact with news items. The analysis is based on the web browsing behaviour of more than 5,000 German Internet users.

Turning conventional wisdom on its head, researchers have found that use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, or search engine Google actually results in more visits to news sites and a greater variety of news sites visited. Pixabay

“Regardless of whether a user usually consumed a little or a lot of online news, on days on which someone spent more time on Facebook, Twitter, or Google than usual, they also came into contact with more news as well as more news from different sources than usual,” stated Sebastian Stier from GESIS – the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne, Germany.

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“From previous studies undertaken by the University of Oxford in particular, we know that although access to news often happens partly by chance, it is also partly down to conscious choice. Some users even visit sites like Facebook and Twitter in order to consume news content,” added Johannes Breuer of GESIS. (IANS)