The New Watchdog

Mainstream media to new media- how has the shift affected political reporting

Politics is undoubtedly a game for supremacy solely played in the name of the people for evoking national interest. Fred Fedler was right then he said “journalism is built on reporting government”. The idea of ‘the watchdog’ means that the journalist, as an independent observer without any vested interest in any side of the controversy, can inform the public about what is going on, particularly if the government is corrupt or even incompetent. However, the political journalists do not play this role flawlessly. 

There is a paucity of good political reporting in India- reporting with an insight, reporting that captures in action the trouper of the political field, reporting that exposes the petty politics and the never ending hypocrisies of political parties and the conspiracies of those in power.

The grave situation that the Indian democracy is in, is that it is they who guide and shape the destiny of some 135 crore people. Lacking ideas, bereft of intelligence and character, they exploit religion and caste to stay in power. 

Most political commentators and reporters on traditional medias like mainstream news channels and newspapers have glorified politicians and never truthfully presented their failures as much as their achievements. Programmes of political parties are rarely critically evaluated by reporters of most traditional media and their flaws are never commented upon so that the people are carried away by their rhetoric or patriotic postures. The Inadequate political coverage, not judged by the quantity of the news brought in or reported but by the quality of it, brings down the credibility of the traditional media. 

The mediatization of the political news necessitates that media content is governed by media logic rather than political logic, and can be indicated by media interventionism where the journalists are in control of news making. (Esser, 2008, Strömbäck and Dimitrova, 2011, Zeh and Hopmann, 2013). 

The way we use social media today impacts what we read and how we read or listen to news. Consider politics for that matter- Political parties bank on news channels, such as ZEE News or NDTV to get their updates on how the election campaign is going. Unbeknownst to many, both of these news outlets are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. If you tune into Zee News, you will get a completely different view of any candidate than you would on NDTV and viseversa. This type of controlling what people read and hear causes a lot of misinterpretation. This is where political reporting in new media comes into, where you not just read what the journalist has to say but also what others think about it and more importantly why they think the way they do. Unlike the traditional media, you don’t hear one side of the story, on new media platforms you can view multitude versions of the same story. With the advent of political reporting via social media and news portals, journalists who act like the watchdogs are now backed up, not only by their organisation, but also by their viewers, readers and followers who make an informed choice. 

At the same time, the new media has initiated trends time and again. exposed how the traditional political reporters undercut the ideal aims of a free democratic press. The watchdog role is now played by the new media which had previously only been performed by trained political journalists who even under the worst of circumstances focused on uncovering the facts surrounding serious political wrongdoings.