During the last one week, media in the country has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. So full it is of negativity and predatory campaigns of character assassination that even the people holding high positions in public life have cried foul.
What it is doing is undoubtedly condemnable and calls for retrospection by the media persons themselves. Moreover, what is more important is actually missing. In the rat race for catching eyeballs, the media is ignoring the issues that are of vital concern to the people — the process of development and how it impacts the lives of the people.
The near-absence of development journalism from the current media landscape underlines this yawning gap. The importance of development journalism in a developing country like India can seldom be overemphasised.
The success stories of the ongoing development process, or its failures, rarely find space in the media.
This assumes special significance today with the Modi Government’s renewed focus on development through programmes such as Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT), the National Food Security Act and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.
This is ironical. While the media is bristling with Modi-bashing or Modieulogising narratives with intense passion, serious reporting and meaningful critique of his agenda of inclusive development is almost absent. Even the serious issue of corruption has been reduced to an eyeball-catching blame-game instead of dealing with what it costs the people and how it should be prevented.
That job seems to have been left to the Prime Minister and his team.
Fortunately, PM Modi has risen to the occasion. For a Prime Minister who has not held a single official press conference during his eight years, Modi’s relationship with the media may appear somewhat uneasy. But he has more than compensated for that through his immensely successful direct communication with the people. Whether it is his monthly radio broadcast programme, Mann Ki Baat, or his tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach is unlike anything seen before.
Perhaps he has communicated more to the people of India than any Prime Minister has ever done. He has been using every available channel of communication – radio, Twitter, or public speeches – to do so. He’s been firing on all cylinders, so much so that he is also using the Prime Minister’s Office’s Twitter account. In all the communication, welfare of the people and their all-round development— Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas— is the pivot around which he weaves his narratives. His Government has also started its own media outlets.
It is not that PM Modi is unaware of, or unconcerned with, the media’s preoccupation with non-developmental issues. On several occasions he has exhorted the mainstream media to pay more attention to issues connected with the development of the country and its people. And whenever, the media responded, he has appreciated its role.
At a recent media event, for instance, he went out of the way to praise the media’s role in popularising the Government’s Swacch Bharat and Beti Bachao campaigns. But development is not the Government’s business only. It is also one of the media’s key roles to act as a bridge between the Government and the people. India is changing and media must act as a catalyst for this socio-economic change.
Blitz India has decided to fill this gap. The weekly has completed 25 well-received issues on sustainable development goals and the role of various stakeholders in achieving them.
The Hindi edition of Blitz India is also in the pipeline and plans are afoot to come out with other Indian language editions in the near future.
However, much more remains to be done. In this age of social media and smartphones, every citizen has a chance to be part of the larger media landscape. What is needed is imparting a sense of purpose to him and a helping hand through capacity-building. Citizen participation in development journalism can bring about a sea-change in an aspiring New India. That’s because the citizens have a real stake in the development process, both as its catalysts and beneficiaries.