Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Media Governance and Cultural Issues: A book review

Media Governance and Cultural Issues  

Edited by Rajesh Das, Mugdha Sengupta and Saswati Gangopadhyay;
Department of  Mass Communication, The University of Burdwan, West Bengal; 2018; Pages 229; Rs. 225.

Reviewed by Shashidhar Kapur (Senior Journalist), 10, Indus Empire, Bhopal.)

The topical research volume on media governance and cultural issues published by The University of  Burdwan offers great insights. Featuring a wide spectrum of papers and case studies,  it covers both the theoretical and applied aspects.
 Its first paper by Vir Bala Aggarwal is about internet and religion which points to how religion is being transformed a by media and vice versa. The former has come up with simplistic versions to connect with the masses while latter has shed its secularist tag. Aggarwal offers an interesting insight by saying that media has become a religion of sorts. 
 Biplab Roy Choudhary’s take on the role of media in influencing the vote in LS  elections 2014 is discerning. It says that parties lose control over candidates who hire their own political consultants – often not mentioning their parties in campaigns. That the media acted as a matchmaker between creators’ perceptions and audience’s perceptions is an acute observation. Also, the concept of the “spiral of silence” from opponents’  after the first favourable opinion poll and the  “bandwagon effect” of subsequent polls puts things in perspective.
The highlight of this volume is a paper by Prof. ( Dr. ) Pavitra  Shrivastava and Prof. C K Sardana on “ Media - changed and changing role”.It avers that media has to be both proactive as well as reactive viz. have curtain raisers and follow ups. Its duty is to bring in the marginalised into focus. The duo has done a yeoman ’s service by underlining media’ s role in highlighting subjects like growing population, shrinking agricultural land, environmental degradation and the misuse of discretionary funds by elected representatives.
Mr Rajesh Das’ paper on Media mapping in SAARC region for development gives highly implementable suggestions such as having a daily SAARC news bulletin, hosting a SAARC documentary film festival and creating a  SAARC news agency. One can only hope that policymakers take note of it so that, in  South Asia,  have a shared vision and project a common view of the world. It is significant since our destinies are interlinked.
Written in a lucid style,  the compendium covers many case studies thereby bringing investigation into play.“ Media governance and cultural  issues”  has been edited professionally to proportionately range from mainstream media to new media .
Snehasis  Sur has underlined the critical role of  Public broadcaster which is slipping  away, largely in the absence of a revenue model and also due to a lack of  will on the part of  government. Moreover , in Archan Mitra and Aditi Singh Roy’s  paper  marks the paucity of  research in public service advertising . Besides , it brings up the aspect of  audience viewpoint in media  governance – which is almost  unheard of  in media discussions in India.
 Also, the oft overlooked aspect of  the relation of  Media with NGOS  has been  studied indepth. Both aspects of  advocacy and activism are brought out in            Jhilum Roy Chowdhary’s  paper on NGO’s and  Advocacy and  Kunal  Roy’s on  NGO  - Media interface respectively. Roy Chowdhary mentions the latest trends  of  Public  relations among  Ngo’s which include crowd funding and online petitions. Kunal sees a complementary role for Media in developmental  activities  albeit with caution.
  This well researched volume covers the entire span from past into the  future  via   the present . From the traditional democratic participatory communication in Santhal villages being vitiated by vested interests of modern  politics to a well   planned response of  India  to the problem of  Climatic change and prediction of  a bright  future of  Indian Cinema in  the complete timeline is covered . According  to  Amartya  Saha,   the  role of mass  media is critical in creating awareness about  climate change and sustainable living. Mugdha  Sengupta  refers to the digitisation in cinema governance as a pointer to its bright  future.
 Of course, not all the papers match up to a uniformly high standard but being uneven is in the nature of  any compilation. Perhaps better printing could’ve made  this  volume  even more reader  friendly.. However, it would be fair to say that  “Media  governance and  cultural issues” brings  out a continuum of  concerns  in the relationship. The volume offers hints to  the resolution of  most of these. All in all , the linkage between media governance and cultural issues has  been  deconstructed . It is likely to spawn a flurry of  work to further decode it .

Shashidhar Kapur
Sr. Journalist

10, Indus Empire, Bhopal

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