Media in the Troubled Times
Human beings crave security. However, in today’s turbulent times the society is getting itself adjusted to the insecurity like never before. The on-going novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has influenced people’s socio-economic, political, and cultural patterns to a great extent, and worldwide uncertainties have become aplenty. Learning to cope with insecurity has somehow set in a new normal. The industry of media and communication is no exception to it. When the whole world is waging war against the virus, social distancing, quarantining, and working from home have significantly influenced media consumption. Changes in the pattern of media consumption are not new. However, a study conducted in the month of last March finds that the pandemic has a direct impact on media consumption. About fifty percent of the respondents confirmed that they were watching the news more. Australians were found reading more newspapers while Italians were engaged in messaging services (Statista, 2020).
A study reveals that the difference of time using online through mobiles for global news between March 2019 and March 2020 is 52%, 180%, and 215% in Australia, Italy, and the US, respectively. People have become glued to their mobile devices to take stock of information on the global health pandemic. TV viewing has gone up significantly all over the world. The cult hit series Ramayana, Mahabharat, and Shaktimaan made a comeback on the national channel in India. The TV news viewership has grown by 298% in India (Nielsen, 2020).
In these changing times, brands have started implementing their newer strategies to meet the consumers’ requirements. However, when the electronic and digital media are growing significantly, the precarious condition of print media is getting further deteriorated. Several newspapers and magazines have been beleaguered with problems as the printing and distribution system is paralyzed. This grim situation that the print industry is facing today is likely to continue. Circulations and advertising revenue are the worst-hit areas that the industry is trying hard to surmount.
With the advent of unprecedented circumstances, consumers’ purchasing and media behavior has dramatically changed. The production, distribution, and consumption of media contents have undergone numerous changes. At the same time, for branding and boosting the business, companies are keeping on investing in advertising. The stalwarts in the media industry are actively engaged in recalibrating the landscape in these troubled times. This has led to the rebooting of the media and entertainment industry. It has become imperative for the industry when the consumers are experimenting on how to live, work, and sustain in this time of doubts.
When there are changes in overall media patterns and industries, the issues of infodemic cannot be ruled out from the current discourse. Globally, there has been a continuous flow of misinformation on COVID-19 in all the platforms of media. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, the World Health Organization (WHO), states that the whole world is fighting with infodemic along with the epidemic. The security experts in Munich Security Conference have cautioned that fake news spreads faster than the virus. Therefore, the need for media literacy and pertinent deliberation has come to the fore again as warranted at this juncture.
Moreover, the culture of media literacy has given rise to the emergence and growth of alternative media, which can create a culture of participatory culture. The culture of participatory communication democratizes the production, distribution, and consumption of media contents, which further pave the way for civic engagement and creative expression. Making space for and execution of sensible journalism is the pressing need of the hour. In this context, the political economy of news media needs to be primarily questioned. The journalistic narrative should retain the sense of news values for the cause of humanity and national development. Therefore, the onus is on the media to serve the overall well-being of society.
The current issue of Media Watch is an amalgamation of research papers comprising newspaper coverage on disaster; fake news; literature and culture; media and environment; politics and media; journalism in the age of information technology; message dissemination in blogs; global intercultural discourse; dialogue texts and literature; and ethnocultural trait of verbal communication.
Hong and Kean’s paper analyzes the newspaper coverage of the Sewol Ferry disaster. The paper attempts to understand the media accounts of three hero teachers from the perspectives of heroism. Maniou, Papa, and Bantimaroudi’s paper attempt to understand the fake news by experimenting among four groups of post-millennials. The study finds a definite connection between the salience of a story and its perceptions of fakeness. Bayanbaeva, Sinyachkin, Dzholdasbekova, and Bakhtikireeva’s paper tries to examine the study of the structure of the literary problem confronted in the local text substrate. The study resorting to the methodology of language gains required insignificance in the field of culture and communication. Tursynbayeva, Mukhambetkaliyeva, Auyesbay, and Baigabylov’s paper covers the role of media in bringing ecological awareness and imparting environmental education among students of Kazakhstan. The study enjoys the social responsibility of the media. Baigozhina et al. probe and analyze the space of political fears in socio-economic spheres and propaganda used in mass media outlets.
Sauyrbaeva, Omarov, Kulibekova, and Rakhmet’s paper attempts to investigate the sociology of journalism and information technology in Kazakhstan. The researchers show the way of journalism directing towards social communication. Kurkimbayeva et al. analyze the uses and gratification approach of blogs, a part of computer-mediated communication by understanding the dimensions like needs, desire, attitudes, and satisfaction. The study is more on the blogger’s text message and the respondent’s subsequent reaction to them. Nagymzhanova et al. discuss the global intercultural discourse in the light of participation, parameters, and reviewing the strategies for the maximization of intercultural communication. Yessenbayev et al. examine the importance of dialogue texts in the literature in the domain of communicative functions, paving the way for interdisciplinary research. Issakova et al. discuss the vitality of ethnocultural dimensions of verbal communication in Russian and Kazakh languages.
Nielsen. (2020). COVID-19: tracking the impact on media consumption. Retrieved from https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2020/covid-19-tracking-the-impact-on-media-consumption/
Statista. (2020). In-home media consumption due to the coronavirus outbreak among internet users worldwide as of March 2020, by country. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1106498/home-media-consumption-coronavirus-worldwide-by-country/
Santosh Kumar Biswal, PhD
Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC)
Symbiosis International (Deemed University), India