Social Media is a shot in the arm for traditional media: Zeinab Badawi, BBC World News

Award-winning journalist & presenter of BBC World News, Badawi, talks about India becoming a superpower & the role of media in post truth political era

Global Questions, BBC's international television and radio debate programme, gives local audiences around the world a unique chance to put their questions to a high-profile panel of leaders and opinion formers. The programme travelled to New Delhi for the first time to assess India after nearly 70 years of its independence.

Presenter Zeinab Badawi, an international award winning journalist and presenter of BBC World News’ flagship interview programme, HARDtalk, was in New Delhi to host the chapter of Global Questions. She spoke with exchange4media about India becoming superpower and the role of media in post truth political era among other things.



Edited excerpts:

What are your expectations from the Global Questions - India that you will be hosting this week?

I think that we cannot, as an organisation, ignore India which is why Global Questions is here. India is one of the pivotal nations.

A lot of developing countries look to India to see how it has transformed the economy. It is technologically driven in many ways and is the world’s biggest democracy.

With the general elections looming next year we thought it was the right moment to come to India to explore what is going on in the people’s minds. The question we are posing is, ‘Is India the world’s next super power?'.

Can traditional media play any role in reducing the impact of fake news being spread using social media?

When it first came around, the traditional media was a bit perplexed if social media was a threat to them. However, it has been a shot in the arm for traditional media like the BBC.

In a world where everyone has an opinion and comment is free, the traditional media, be it the print or broadcast, say ‘look comment is free but fact is sacred’ and what we do is facts. We (traditional media) give unbiased presentation of news. We are not slanting the news the way one sees on social media where you have fiction sometimes masquerading as truth. I think it actually shows how much we need these trusted and tested organisation and yes, traditional media uses social media now as a way of disseminating its message.

Politicians extensively use social media to communicate with people. Do you think the role of press is being suppressed because of it?

There is nothing wrong with political leaders using social media for communicating with voters and citizens at large but it doesn’t mean that they should ignore the traditional media.

The problem with social media is that is usually a one way communication...and I think one of the disadvantages of social media is this that politicians use it to communicate their message but not as a means of dialogue where as in an interview, like my show HARDtalks, in traditional media you can.

What is your message for Indian media?

Indian media is wonderful and I think the use of language and the kind of variety of voices India has, I think it should cherish it.

Like you know a free media is cornerstone of any democracy and India being the world’s largest democracy so any threats to a free and transparent media here would be a matter of huge regret. I would say keep on battling for your right to Article 17 of universal declaration of human rights, free flow of information and freedom of expression is absolutely important and if you feel in any way that it is being compromised then you will have to stand up an raise your voice and say that you will not accept.

You have to be together regardless of the political persuasion. This goes beyond party politics. This is a fundamental human right that every country should have which is the freedom of expression. For more updates, be socially connected with us on
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