Kashmir on New Media

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TARIQUE A BHAT

Newspapers were the kings of media but their crowns are about to topple off. The growth of what they call grassroots journalism has exceeded beyond imaginations. People are documenting what is happening via their cell phones well before journalists could reach the affected areas. It has been the people who provide the mass media with the raw material on which we base our coverage. Reporters for print newspapers often check online websites and rewrite the news for print. Members of the public have been communicating the news on electronic media. They’ve not just been on the receiving end as a captive audience. Podcasting, Facebook ,Twitter and MySpace are the regular features of the web. These popular social network websites are challenging the status quo. The media industry is facing serious challenges with the rising popularity of Internet-based newspapers.

World has traversed from the news to the opinion columns that too at the speed of light, but we are yet to take to the new media realm.

In Kashmir though many of newspapers and journalists are also turning their attention to the new fad by contributing to online newspapers, but our Web-based news is not gaining local popularity. Our blog scene has not moved a few gears forward. Citizen Journalism is not kicking off. There is apparently no big emergence of “we media” from Kashmir though our young generation prefers to go online and have a more interactive news experience. A growing number of people are coming online from the valley, especially the younger ones, and continuously rooting for ways to put the Net in some positive educational or social context.

It may come as a surprise, but valley has more than one lac direct net accessed population and much more are the secondary beneficiaries in homes, offices and cyber cafes.

Students, who have absolutely no access to public libraries and books, are extensively using the net. And the net has enormous social and economic consequences. It has the potential of being a tool for social change, and not just for recreation and killing the time or fashion. But the sex chatters, novice and cyber-vandals — have overwhelmed the economic and educational possibilities of the vast and diverse medium of communication.

It is not accelerating at a remarkable rate for wider phenomenon of citizen-generated media-of global conversation that is growing in strength, complexity, and power.

In the contemporary high-tech societies there is emerging a significant expansion and redefinition of the public sphere and that these developments are connected primarily with media and computer technologies. The effective use of technology is essential even in contemporary politics and that intellectuals and organizations  who wish to intervene in the new public spheres need to deploy new communications media to participate in democratic debate and to shape the future of contemporary Kashmir society and culture. The traditional media – newspapers, magazines, broadcasters need to experiment.

Our media houses are not bringing masses into conversations. We are not ready for drastic shifts in journalistic trends. Media organizations and new-media-savvy journalists with a good understanding of always-on, round-the-clock digital media and the production of audio and video multimedia for the Internet and mobile platforms will survive in the days to come.

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