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Donald Trump's attacks on independent media have spurred a Renaissance: Lydia Polgreen, Huffington Post

01-December-2017
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Donald Trump's attacks on independent media have spurred a Renaissance: Lydia Polgreen, Huffington Post

Lydia Polgreen, Global Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post, was in the Capital recently to talk about the importance of journalistic values in a world deluged with fake news and biased media reporting.

Commenting on the state of affairs of media in India, Polgreen said, “I think India has always had a vibrant media landscape. Unlike many other countries, India continues to see a great strength in print media and newspapers still remain a very important part of the ecosystem. I think you have seen some fallback in the weekly news magazines, they are not quite as powerful as they used to be and TV remains the primary source of news for many people. But the most exciting things I think are happening in the online space and you are seeing some real independent organisations springing up and doing some real ground-breaking journalism.”

Polgreen also believes that there is a pressing need to bring back quality content into mainstream journalism, which in some cases has reduced to mere TV ratings or shout fests. “We are in a moment right now where you don’t necessarily need to spray a story out to hundreds and millions of people if you can get the right story in front of the right audience and get them engaged with it in a really deep way. There are a lot of serious issues and people want the best and highest quality news about those issues. I think news organisations always need to respond to what the consumer need is. If the consumer need is for us to be lively, engaging, entertaining and informative, then that is what we need to be in order to connect with the audience,” she said. 

With the growing popularity of social media platforms, the issue of fake news has become a major concern for news organisation. According to Polgreen, social media itself is being disrupted as a source of news. “It used to be the case that the largest share of traffic came from Facebook. But now we are seeing products like Apple News rivals that eclipse the power of Facebook as a source for news. You have also seen Facebook and other social networks finding themselves less and less interested in the news space precisely because of the risk associated with it and also because of the explosion of fake news.”

Over the last few years Freedom Of Press has become a raging debate, especially after big corporate houses taking over media organisations in many parts of the world. Speaking about the risk of corporate media ownership in the Indian context, Polgreen said, “I think there are always risks involved with corporate media ownership and in India we have seen examples of media companies that have come under pressure. I think there were a lot of questions about the departure of the Editor-in-Chief of Hindustan Times, Bobby Ghosh. Even NDTV has seen a lot of changes and there are questions about that.”

When asked to share her views on President Donald Trump’s attack on media organisations, Polgreen added, “In the US what we have seen is that the news ecosystem has really risen to the challenge of the Trump administration. We are really seeing a kind of renaissance and I think we are living in a time right now where journalism can have more impact than ever. I think the attacks of Donald Trump on independent media have helped spur that revival and that Renaissance.”

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