History is a testament to the role of media during any political change. India’s demonetization is no different. It’s no surprise that the Fayes and Arnabs of the media world have a massive impact on the ones watching them. But during take 2 of the demonetization coverage, things went better than before! Was this due to critical media intervention, or are people now accustomed to a ‘new normal’?
In this article, let us delve deeper into the media’s role during the demonetization of ₹2000 note.
Seven years ago, one unassuming night in November, notes as we knew them back then changed. And thus ensued a media circus of opinions. The frenzy was uncontrollable as anxiety got the best of us humans.
But now, in 2023 – things have changed!
Things are a lot calmer, almost as if we have gotten used to these overnight decisions, and panic has given way to reason.
These changes are apparent in the media as well. But these slight nuances become truly visible when we look at the difference in reporting.
What was once celebrated as a win against corruption and wealth inequality is now being looked at with a much critical eye. Headlines ask questions like ‘Rs 2000 Note Withdrawn: Policymaking That Is Insensitive to Consequences Has Become the Norm’ rather than calling it ‘ The Great Cash Cleanup.’
The Four Pillar of Democracy
The role of media is almost evident in such a scenario, especially since this is a repeat of a situation that changed the economic geography of our country. Let us look at what the role ‘ideally’ is :
Media outlets served as the primary source of information during demonetization, providing updates on government policies, guidelines, and the evolving situation. Journalists and news anchors reported on the logistics of currency exchange, banking procedures, and the impact on different sectors of the economy.
Analysis and Expert Opinions
Media platforms facilitated in-depth analysis and expert opinions, shedding light on the rationale behind demonetization and its potential long-term effects. Economists, financial experts, and policymakers were invited to discuss the pros and cons of the move, offering insightful perspectives and facilitating informed discussions.
Public Reactions and Voices
The media provided a platform for citizens to express their opinions, concerns, and experiences during demonetization. Through interviews, panel discussions, and vox pops, people from various walks of life shared their stories, highlighting their challenges and hopes for a corruption-free economy.
Accountability and Critique
Media outlets acted as watchdogs, holding the government accountable for the implementation and outcomes of demonetization. They unearthed instances of irregularities and corruption through investigative journalism, ensuring transparency and demanding accountability.
The interplay between politics and media during this period showcased the complex dynamics and potential biases that can arise. Some key observations of political influence on the media include:
As the driving force behind the demonetization policy, the government sought to control the narrative and shape public perception. Media outlets aligned with the ruling party often echoed the government’s messaging, emphasizing the purported benefits of demonetization while downplaying its potential drawbacks. This dominance of government messaging created an environment where critical voices were often marginalized or dismissed.
Government Messaging Dominance
This involved strategic messaging, highlighting success stories, and projecting demonetization as a transformative step toward eradicating black money and corruption. Such efforts aimed at building a positive narrative around the policy and garner public support.
Polarization of Media
The demonetization period witnessed a polarization of media outlets along political lines. Some media organizations openly aligned themselves with specific political parties, leading to a divided media landscape. This polarization further deepened the political influence on media as outlets became more inclined to influence their target audience and promote a specific ideological narrative.
Are we selling news?
The relationship between political agendas and the Indian media is complex and evolving. Political influence on media ownership, the manipulation of news narratives, sensationalism, and the prevalence of paid news raise concerns about the impartiality and integrity of Indian media. These dynamics impact journalistic objectivity and challenge media independence and freedom of expression. Recognizing and addressing these issues is vital for upholding the principles of ethical journalism and ensuring that the media remains a robust pillar of democracy. Striving for a media landscape that operates independently, devoid of political interference, will be essential to fostering informed and engaged citizens.
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