The PM speaks to the media

BY B.P. Sanjay| IN Media Practice | 30/06/2011
In the past too, the PM’s media interactions have been a subject matter of scrutiny and the fact that he does not adopt a more robust and charismatic spin to his interactions has been noted.
Is the media an important channel for the PM, asks BP SANJAY
Spurred by the Party, the PM decides to have more frequent and formal interactions with the media. Starting off with a group composed mostly of regional editors, the prime minister characterized the media as “accuser, prosecutor and judge.”
The media is in the dock quite often when criticism is directed from the ordinary person to the judges, leaders of civil society groups, academics and media watch groups. The Prime Minister summing it up in the manner he did reflects the need for balance and introspection among the media. How this is going to reflect in the regional media whom he addressed depends on how sincere and justified the sermon was.
In the past too, the PM’s media interactions have been a subject matter of scrutiny and the fact that he does not adopt a more robust and charismatic spin to his interactions has been noted. While governance goes on the fact that such actions are not frequently reinforced by the PM through the media seems to drive home the point that the PM is reticent and does not want to recognise the “awesome” power of the Indian media. The advice to the opposition by the Congress spokesperson seem to validate the style of the PM as being what he is-silent worker- as opposed to the media savvy style of the principal opponent, the BJP.
Is the media an important channel for the PM? Being the PM he naturally enjoys prime media space through what he says in various forums. They are lapped up by the media with or without their aggressive spin. Is this filtering and treatment that worries the establishment necessitating them to advise that he should frequently interact with the media and unless we got it wrong---once a week at least? 
To some extent the disconnect perception prevails more so in situations where the government is caught in delicate situations. Be it the CAG or live coverage of  civil society activism the PM’s silence then, and post facto rationalization now, seem to have upheld the view that remaining silent led the media and opposition to run amok giving undue advantage to opinions that otherwise should have analyzed seriously the institutional processes and dynamics we have for taking important decisions. The PM observed:
“…in an uncertain world in which we live in, if 5 out of 10 decisions that I take ex-ante turn out to be correct ex-post that would be considered as a job well done. If out of 10 decisions that I take, 7 turn out to be right ex-post that would be considered an excellent performance. But if you have a system which is required to perform 10 out of 10 cases I think no system can be effective and satisfy that onerous condition.” 
Reflecting on a host of issues including foreign relations he seemed disappointed with the ambience in which the government could function. “… this constant sniping between government and opposition or if an atmosphere of cynicism is created all round I think the growth impulses, the entrepreneurial impulses of our people will not flourish and that is what worries me. We must do all that we can to revive the animal spirits of our businesses. And the fact that businessmen cut corners is partly a reflection of the loopholes in our regulatory system.” 
Of the five editors who are seen in the photo published in the media two were seen giving bites to the media as the event was not telecast live. Why it was not telecast live will be another rallying point in the days to come. The remarks available on the PMO website provides some insight to what the thinking of the Prime Minister is at this stage. It has come a bit late but perhaps at the right time as an invitation to the media in the wake of the impending cabinet reshuffle. Relatively unshackled by the compulsions of coalition partners and new friends waiting in the wings, this media interaction of the PM may pave the way for a nuanced coverage of the reshuffle.
The invitation to the “very influential members of our polity to help the government to deal with these problems with courage, with clarity and with determination” is timed to blunt the coverage and seek partnerships. Will the media “listen” and “cooperate”?
Anticipating the usual stock descriptions of him and his style of functioning including his relationship with the party president, he sought to dispel them as media expressions of what the opposition says. The academician tag that he carries helps us to describe his interaction: professorial.
Subscribe To The Newsletter
The new term for self censorship is voluntary censorship, as proposed by companies like Netflix and Hotstar. ET reports that streaming video service Amazon Prime is opposing a move by its peers to adopt a voluntary censorship code in anticipation of the Indian government coming up with its own rules. Amazon is resisting because it fears that it may alienate paying subscribers.                   

Clearly, the run to the 2019 elections is on. A journalist received a call from someone saying they were from Aajtak channel and were conducting a survey, asking whom she was going to vote for in 2019. On being told that her vote was secret, the caller assumed she wasn't going to vote for 'Modiji'. The caller, a woman, also didn't identify herself. A month or two earlier the same journalist received a call, this time from a man, asking if she was going to vote for the BSP.                 

View More