Two of the Curators of North East Blog today participated in Talk Journalism Festival. Speaking at a session titled, ‘Digital Voices from Small town India’, the North East Blog curators highlighted the lack of North East issues and news in ‘Mainstream Media’.
The speaker highlighted a few fundamental issues and introduced North East Blog as a social/digital media platform.
Some excerpts from the talk are as follows:-
“Three key things stand out in the Media coverage in today’s world, when it comes to issues of the Northeast. First, there is serious lack of coverage. North east issues get minimal space both in television and print media of the what we call as ‘Mainstream media’; Secondly, Much of the coverage is based on statistics and rarely address the root cause of issues. For instance, let’s see the coverage that took place when it came to the Floods coverage. After much outcry in social media (much of it was led by Northeast blog twitter handle), the national media did pick up the news, but much of it was limited to updating the news of lives (both human and animals) lost. And thirdly, the mainstream media interestingly gives immediate attention to security and conflict issues in northeast. One has to understand that the immense focus on Security issues and conflict reporting, without clearly stating the reasons behind it plays a role in re-emphasizing the existing stereotypes of people from the ‘Mainland’ if I may say so, of northeast region as of conflict zone. Thus, public opinion for continued Armed forces Act and increased militarization is easily developed.”
So, North east Blog tries to do 2 things, 1) First fill the news gap about Northeast in online platforms and 2) provide for with an alternative (real) perspective about issues coming from North east
In the talk, the speaker also focused on demystifying the reasons like ‘Tyranny of Distance’ and established that the mainstream clearly lacks the political will to cover issues of northeast issues, precisely because it won’t generate enough TRP. The speaker also highlighted that Much of the little reporting that is done on North east issues is done from a top-down approach and most of the journalist lack a proper understanding of the northeast. Misinformation like Arunachal CM being reported as Assam CM by leading newspaper portals were highlighted as sources for this.
The speaker then went on to introduce North East blog as an online platform. NorthEast blog, founded in 2010, has been able to cover a considerable journey and today is the most followed twitter handle on NE issues. Besides this, it has also been able to build itself as a credible source of information on North East. Besides, vigorously campaigning for North east issues, the blog and the twitter handle has also been providing the mainstream media with any required information on North East. It continues to give voices of the issues of north east. Such was the outspoken nature of the blog, that it was once blocked by the government of India.
Despite its good work, challenges like Sustaining the news flow, with only a few curators and volunteers, with no source of revenue remains. Moreover, the northeast blog continues to strive to continue to be relevant, amidst the overflow of social media sites on north east issues. And that needs dedicated people.
The discussion generated a lot of discussion among the audience who asked various questions on the issues of north east. Many students came forward with pledge to support the blog.
(This is an excerpted version of a long presentation made by the North East Blog curator. The longer version is available on demand. Besides, what is mentioned here, the curator also did a comprehensive analysis of why the regional media within north east is lacking the direction that it needs to take, presented the milestones of NE blog, and presented a future plan for the blog. Interested volunteers can please contact the curators at firstname.lastname@example.org )