I started writing once my awareness of our country’s politics reached a certain level of maturity and compelled me to jot down a few opinionated pieces. All of this happened while I was a fresher in college and seeing my peers explore a bunch of opportunities by way of internships and volunteer work, I too wanted to put my writing to test but where? Was there a dearth of mediums? No. Was there a dearth of accessible mediums? Certainly! Unlike, websites solely dedicated to sports and films, the two other national passions, most of whom make it a point to source their content from their audience, most of the digital platforms dedicated to covering politics have a top-down approach. While sifting through their content, the reasons behind that top-down approach become palpable – vested interests.
There are very practical economic reasons behind the same, for at the end of the day, the whole exercise of journalism in the age of new media is about paying lip service to the ideology which is paying the bills. In such a situation, there is no space left for bipartisanship as the opposing ends of the ideological spectrum are more conscious of the importance of mobilising and polarising young Indians – the major consumers of content on digital platforms.
Left or Right, the Congress or the BJP, whichever way one sees it, allying with one means denouncing the other, and that’s that. But where do you turn to if what needs to be told doesn’t have to do with the politics of our leaders but the ground realities which the electorate is left to deal with?
While the national parties spar amongst themselves for petty electoral gains, their foot soldiers are busy forming ideological combines in the media space. In the process of doing so, issues of importance aren’t brought to the fore. When they are, they become spaces for political contestations, and the blame game follows. But was this how it was all supposed to turn out? No.
New media was being championed by one and all because it presented an opportunity to do away with the top-down approach and bring about a democratisation of the media space. Instead, the digital space ended up being hijacked by the same monopolists who reigned over the conventional media spaces.
However, the optimism hasn’t fizzled out yet. There still exists a variety of independent platforms for the youth, where they can voice their concerns, and hence, won’t be subjected to the compulsions of subscribing to a particular ideology or of being politically correct. These platforms may be at a nascent stage but haven’t been tainted by the evils of paid and fake news which is what makes them a novelty in digital space. They crowdsource their content and hence, their archives boast of articles presenting ideas on the opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. They deal with politics and yet, aren’t corrupted by political affiliations. Moreover, they have played a part in triggering a discourse on subjects which have for long been regarded as taboo and hence, prominent media houses have sidestepped these issues for those which would be better placed in generating the requisite hits/likes.
When not viewed through the prism of politics, these are stories that need to be told, voices that need to be heard. It’s citizen journalism at its best, and I have found it being exercised by digital platforms such as DU Beat, University Express and Youth Ki Awaaz.