Tuesday August 20, 2019
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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 Feel Exposed to Fake News on Social Media, Says Study

The researchers said that when disinformation campaigns challenge access to reliable information, citizens are left to make “uninformed choices”

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Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

A new study has revealed that the more people feel they are exposed to fake news on social media on a regular basis, the more they are likely to distrust the media in general.

The study’s findings, published in the African Journalism Studies journal, revealed that places such as sub-Saharan Africa, where disinformation campaigns have been used recently to influence electoral campaigns, perceive that exposure to disinformation is high and trust in national media and social media is low.

For the study, the researchers included nearly 1,900 people in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa who are highly educated, live in urban, middle class areas and have access to social media.

As many as 90 per cent of Kenyans, 93 per cent of Nigerians and 76 per cent of South Africans believe that they are exposed to false news about politics on a fairly regular basis, the study found.

In a 2016 Pew Research Center study which sampled just over 1,000 Americans, 71 per cent of respondents said they often or sometimes saw fake political news.

Conference, Privacy, Social Media
FILE – Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram projected on a screen in this picture illustration. VOA

“We found that people in sub-Saharan Africa particularly distrust information on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp because that’s where they find ‘fake news’ most often,” said Dani Madrid-Morales, Assistant Professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

“Governments are already using this as an excuse to put restrictions on media by saying that too much freedom of speech on these American platforms poses a ‘danger’ to national security,” he added.

When it comes to sharing a political story that study participants knew at the time was made up, 29 per cent of Kenyans, 18 per cent of Nigerians and 25 per cent of South Africans answered “yes.”

Also Read: Digital Games on Smartphones Better Stress Reliever Than Fidget-spinner

These numbers are higher than the US where 14 per cent of participants answered “yes” in the Pew study.

The researchers said that when disinformation campaigns challenge access to reliable information, citizens are left to make “uninformed choices”. (IANS)