At the First AAAI-Subhas Ghoshal Memorial Lecture which took place in Mumbai on Friday evening, Shekhar Gupta, veteran journalist and Vice Chairman, India Today Group, spoke on the topic ‘The Changing Role of Media in Today’s India’.
He started by saying that just like history was divided into BC and AD, today it is divided into pre-Google and Post-Google era. “A lot of big historical events happened in the pre-Google era and many in the post era, don’t know much about it, they are interested in knowing. Therefore, I don’t agree with the idea that the past doesn’t matter, it is just that, you need to get it right.”
“Today there is a huge generation gap, 1 generation gap = seven years, so the one who is 20 years younger, is actually younger by three generations. Three things have changed our lives today, Smartphone- gives you connectivity, motorbike- gives you mobility and cheap private education gives you social connectivity. Big changes are coming in the society, the younger generations are different, but they are not indifferent. The young Indians are actually aware of what is possible around them; we are now dealing with proud globalised Indians,” he said.
Gupta pointed out, “The nature of the media has changed a lot, it was impossible then to have a platform of your own; the power of the brand was to give you the platform. But today, you can have the platform yourself and carry your audiences with you all the time. Today, businesses are being disrupted. They may not make money, but have created different platforms, clients are being empowered and they know how to buy advertising. The owners of the brands and the platforms are being disrupted.”
To the question on whether the media is a source for good or a problem, he cited, “Today both sides, see you as a problem. The Left thinks we are Right and the Right thinks we are Left, when the new media gets attacked by both the sides, you then know that things are going perfect. The era of the new media came up with the Jessica Lal case, also an interesting fact is that, today, more than 30 crore people are on the social media, and election campaigns in states like Bihar are being pushed and promoted on WhatsApp. Social media has huge power; recently the shocking images of the little Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore, captured the tragedy of Europe’s migrant crisis.”
He further added, “Social media also has the power of misleading the audience- like it happened in the Dadri lynching case. Today in this age and day, it is not possible to stop communication, the more the establishment tries to stop it, chances of showing up less trusted and morphed images becomes higher. When people don’t trust the media then rumours become true and infact, the worst rumours come true. The phenomenon will grow, establishment will try to challenge it and common people will have to pay a huge price to it.”