It’s nice to see PatnaDaily back after a brief recess. Running a media outlet during the pandemic must have been a challenge, given the fact that many essential human activities world wide had to be either curtailed or discontinued.
In its editorial, “PD is Back with a Change,” published on 8 Feb 2021, the Daily explains its current thinking in a constantly changing socio-political or media environment. All of the modifications proposed to be adopted are, therefore, worthy of serious consideration.
It has rightly warned its readers “not to succumb to fake news, rumors and propaganda.” And that’s where the role of a media platform like PatnaDaily becomes crucially important. People, particularly interested in what’s going on in Bihar, have to be fed the right information and more important than that an incisive discussion/opinion on the developments reported.
It’s true, as the editorial notes, the same set of news annoyingly repeats itself in Bihar, and that’s why the Daily’s news section could be dispensed with. However, the sad fact of Bihar is that we can’t turn our attention away from all such recurring news if (a) we have to hold the feet of someone to the fire including the government’s or (b) we have to have an informed opinion.
Two quick instances may be worth considering. If there are broad daylight murders of citizens in the heart of the city, unless the murders are reported, people will have no clue on the circumstances around the murder and what the administration was doing. May be, similarly, information on Pappu Yadav’s frequent activities in Patna will help understand why a former MP and a dreaded person like him couldn’t win an Assembly constituency in Bihar where his caste dominated.
The real frustration the PatnaDaily could share with its readers is that despite constant news coverage of the same issues nothing or very little seems to be moving in Bihar. The news of seasonal waterlogging in Patna, therefore, becomes as hackneyed as the reports exposing the City officials, including the Mayors and Counsellors, to be notoriously corrupt. Not seeing the positive impact of repeat news, people begin to dislike the news itself. They are desensitized.
Coverage of news strictly in brief, therefore, will be the best middle path. General flashy news these days could be collected from a third source as well, a reporter doesn’t have to be dispatched for that. An investigative exclusive reporting will be a separate matter.
It appears the problem of Bihar is not so much the paucity of news as what to do with the abundance of news. It looks like people for a variety of reasons are so indifferent to what’s going on around them that they aren’t able to coalesce into an effective public voice; and if they have one on any specific issue, it’s instantly politicized, ignored or suppressed in a 24-hour news cycle.
PatnaDaily could offer a valuable service as a platform where diverse public opinions with regard to the pressing news/issues are formed, represented and amplified. For that, it will also have to shame and shake the Bihar elites out of their stupor.
We must be reminded that in this digital age, researchers from any part of the world interested in knowing about Bihar would search for a regional media outlet like PD to gather opinions of the ‘real’ people.
PatnaDaily can be a place where authentic news, analysis and opinions are generated and archived.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.