The future of Media
By Rajaraman Sundaresan
Conferences and seminars are places of debate, discussion and dissent. Quite often conferences and seminars bring together pluralities of people who represent plurality of thoughts in a democracy it also becomes an ethnographic space in order to understand the changing nature of democracy under a particular regime in that sense the Kalinga TV colloquium 2016 was a welcome move by the KIIT School of Film and Media Sciences. As a spectator of the event one could sense the visionary thought of Dr Achyuta Samanta behind such an event titled “Future of media “.In fact one almost felt that the event not only reflected the media of the future but also combined how orality and textuality could survive as a future democratic cultures. But the tragedy of today’s ethics of democracy is that it is no longer self critical; rather, it operates on the logic of outsourced ethics like any other corporation that does CSR.
It was a day-long conference, which involved renowned people from different walks of media industry. There were discussions on various topics ranging from investigative journalism to the future of entertainment world. The conference was held at Bhubaneswar, Odisha, which has been recently selected as a top priority city by the NDA led Modi government for the smart city initiative. In fact, one could sense it by sitting through the conference as a mere spectator. One almost felt that the conference had less to say about the future of media, but, debated more about the future of media in a smart city. At one level it reflected the aspirations of the elite in a city like Bhubaneswar where every street corner has pan-walas and chai-walas which captures the real essence of the city in terms of its culture and diversity.
One of the biggest challenges of the media industry today is about its understanding of information and knowledge. The digital media to a large extent confuses itself between information and knowledge. A media which tries to gain TRPs and counts its credibility over the number of views has forgotten that the media also has a responsibility to create an emancipatory public. In fact, at a fundamental level one is sure that the new age digital media is no longer a part of the oral or the textual cultures, but tries to combine both, in a strange way, by forcing the public to be a consumer in the internet age of the future. One of the greatest challenges of the future is about this very process of proselytization where a citizen is no longer seen as a knowledge producer but as a consumer of information. Who creates this information? On what basis is it created? And for whom it is created? Social media in that sense has become one of the future anthropological sites to know about the changing aspirations of the society. In fact, at one level one may adore the individuality that a virtual technological space gives, but at the same time one is worried about the creation of a false community and a false culture which no longer seems to be a part of the everyday reality in an everyday sense.
Speed becomes an important element, rather a metaphor that defines growth, development and technology. It in fact, makes one look, as if without the invention of the idea of speed there would be no democracy. But what one really has to understand is that, the notion of speed is unilateral in nature whereas democracy is diversified in nature. Looking at the emphasis of speed which is normally spoken about by the people who represent Facebook, Youtube and Twitter one is reminded of an old story between the tortoise and the hare. One is not quite sure whether the future of media as the fourth pillar of democracy will have a space for the tortoise. At one level what seems to be a glamorous and user friendly idea becomes a threat to the very fundamental survival of the tortoise. In fact what one needs within the idea of science and technology today, is not the unilateral idea of speed but diversified notions of time and space.
Media taglines such as “Power lies in your hands” resemble mere rhetoric in comparison to the kind of journalism that we are seeing today in some of the TV channels at prime time. Journalists like Arnab Goswami are better represented if they were cartoon characters rather than media heroes. Journalism symbolizes a profession which, to a certain extent embodies a sense of sacredness for the public. In this very illiterate process of celebrating TV heroes like him what one forgets is to recognize, the role played by investigative journalists like Prema Sridevi, Shreya Dhoundiyal, Vijayalaxmi Shibaruru and many others. If journalism is alive for the public in a true sense then probably one has to understand the everyday life of journalists like these who not only work for the welfare of the society but fight every moment of their life to keep media as a democratic institute of the future.
(The author is with KIIT & KISS. He is also the cofounder of a student organization named Rhythm of Nation. Currently, he is an independent researcher in the field of Knowledge studies.)