A look at how the media reported on demonetization

One year down the line ,the reporting on demonetization has witnessed quite a shift. The media has realised that it reported and predicted too much, too soon

by Ruhail Amin
Published - Nov 10, 2017 8:40 AM Updated: Nov 10, 2017 8:40 AM

It is exactly one year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetization drive in his speech to the nation on November 8, 2016.

Soon after the announcement, the media started portraying the move as a historic step that could correct the ills in economy. Barring few criticisms, most of the media houses dedicated a chunk of airspace and print space to praise the move that the country needed desperately.

As the talk of new currency notes gained momentum, some news reports spoke about the presence of ‘Nano GPS Chips’ in new currency notes. Keeping the critical journalistic approach of ‘authenticity of news’ aside, many publications played on the rumour that made some sensational headlines.

While the unabashed speculation about demonetization continued, there were some news publications that tried to raise critical questions about the move. But their voice was too feeble in the frenzy of reports that equated demonetization with patriotism. Even social media trends started looking at the great transformation that the country was about to witness, which in hindsight never materialized.

The demonetization reporting by TV news channels in the wake of currency crunch bordered on the dramatic. Most of the vernacular channels, chiefly Hindi news channels, beamed reports of long queues, no cash and riot like scenarios that the move had unwittingly created. However, it was portrayed as a temporary crisis.
Within few months into demonetization, the media stance began to change as cash flowed back into circulation. With no visible sign of black money being curbed, there were soon reports about the move being short sighted and something that was poorly executed.

Most of the mainstream media that had lauded the move and termed it historic soon began to report on the negative impact of demonetization. The biggest critics of demonetization found a new companion in the media that once shunned them. The news anchors that ran specials on ‘Nano chips in currency notes’ never clarified their mistaken stand, nor did many others that had termed the move as a ‘surgical strike’ on black money.

Speaking about how the media reported demonetization, Veteran Journalist Alok Mehta says, “I would say that the media has covered demonetization in a mixed way. There were reports that praised it and criticized it too. The learnings from this is that the reporting should have been more responsible and based on facts rather than merely speculations which we heard and read about for a long time.”

One year down the line, the reporting on demonetization has witnessed quite a shift. The media has realized that it reported and predicted too much, too soon. The narrative of the critics seems to be gaining ground and now even the most ardent supporters of the move are ready to contradict their earlier stand and interpretation.

“The media has been largely reactive and subjugated to different points of views that influencers have had on demonetization of high value notes. The graph has swayed radically from a somewhat favourable and shock centered point of view in the early stages of demonetization, to a dominantly negative perception right now on how demonetization hasn't been able to serve its purpose. In addition to causing significant hardships to smaller businesses, there is an increasing politicization of the fact that it has caused severe loss to the economy,” added Saurabh Uboweja, Brand Expert and CEO, Brands of Desire.

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