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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?”

Next Story

People of Lao Find Social Media For News Most Trustworthy

The number of the country’s social media users is now projected to reach 2.7 million or 39 percent of the population this year, according to the report.

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social media
“The stories broadcast on TV aren’t clear, and are screened ahead of time by the authorities,” the man said, adding, “The internet is not restricted, and the authorities can’t control the information we find on it.” Pixabay

Lao residents are increasingly abandoning state-controlled news sources and turning more to the internet and social media to get news they can trust, sources in the communist Southeast Asian country say.

Facebook and the internet also provide news more quickly and feature live videos, a young woman living in Xayaburi province in the country’s north told RFA’s Lao Service on April 23.

“Lao TV just reads the news and doesn’t show the real thing,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

social media

“Increasingly aware of the restrictions imposed on the official media, Laotians are turning to the Internet and social media,” RSF said in its report. 
Pixabay

“For example, when there was a flood in Attapeu province, social media very quickly reported the number of deaths,” the young woman said. “But the Lao government was not really open about any of this,” she said.

Also speaking to RFA, a man in Savannakhet province in the south of Laos said he now reads Facebook to get news not previously screened by authorities.

“[Lao] TV provides only restricted news and information, for example news about drug trafficking and other news about the country,” the man said, also speaking on condition he not be named.

“The stories broadcast on TV aren’t clear, and are screened ahead of time by the authorities,” the man said, adding, “The internet is not restricted, and the authorities can’t control the information we find on it.”

Both sources told RFA that they frequently check their smart phones when looking for news and other updated information whenever they can get a clear signal, looking also at the social media platforms Line, WhatsApp, and WeChat.

‘Absolute control’

In an annual report released earlier this month, Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) gave Laos a ranking of 171, close to the bottom of a 180-country survey of press freedoms worldwide, saying that the country’s ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) “exercises absolute control over the media.”

“Increasingly aware of the restrictions imposed on the official media, Laotians are turning to the Internet and social media,” RSF said in its report.

“But use of online news and information platforms is held back by a 2014 decree under which Internet users who criticize the government and the Marxist-Leninist LPRP can be jailed,” the press freedoms group said.

News
“Lao TV just reads the news and doesn’t show the real thing,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Pixabay

Speaking to RFA, a Lao government official dismissed the RSF report, saying, “We have a socialist media, and we serve a socialist regime, the Party and the government.  I don’t believe in their ranking.”

“Our government doesn’t force us to do anything,” he said. “For example, if the government tells us not to publish a story, we simply don’t do it.”

Also Read: Xiaomi Launches 2 Budget Smartphones in India

The number of people using social media in Laos is expected to surge this year, as telecom operators compete with each other to offer better services, a report released at the beginning of April by the state-controlled Lao National Internet Centre shows.

The number of the country’s social media users is now projected to reach 2.7 million or 39 percent of the population this year, according to the report. (RFA)