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Digital Politics and the Media

By Shriram Venkatraman, on 12 November 2012

Photo: hjl (Creative Commons)

When talking about Digital Politics, the role of the media cannot be overemphasized. Whether it is as a platform for party/leader promotion or as a medium of social revolution, the press plays an important role as a conduit of information to all stakeholders. In the digital world, the role of the press has not diminished with the translation from offline to the virtual. Digital press takes a plethora of forms: news channel websites, e-newspapers, opinion blogs/columns, polls about current happenings, web TVs, to name but a few. These cater to different kinds of people – from the traditional newspaper addict to the eager web junkie; web novices to the technologically advanced, and so on. The big advantage of the web is the availability of a combination of different formats like audio, static visual, dynamic visuals etc. It is also easier for the press to reach out to their viewers and make the process more interactive. Thus, the digital medium is opening up exciting avenues for more robust news coverage and cutting edge journalism.

Here, it is important to note what the press can do and cannot do. The press can act as a medium to bring knowledge to the people about the happenings in the world. It can also be used as a medium for lay people to express their criticism, opinion, appreciation etc. for the happenings around them. Finally, it can be used as a medium to publicize a political party, its leaders etc. or to bring down a rival party and the latter’s leaders.

However, digital press (just like their offline avatars) cannot be news creators. While, they can amplify or negate the impact of a particular incident, their credibility lies in the fact that the event actually happened and is not a piece of someone’s imagination. Similarly, the press cannot be the solution to a particular problem. Whilst they can drum up an issue to make the relevant people take notice, they cannot offer solutions themselves. Finally, the press cannot do anything that impinges on the fundamental rights of the people (like promoting hate campaigns, clamping down on free speech etc.).