Towards a new 'digital future' in Northeast India


Digital media technologies are an important and enduring feature of the global communication landscape today. Digitization has ushered the power of communication and enabled diverse ethnic masses from both urban and rural sections of the society to ‘raise voices’ and ‘participate’ in various socio-economic/political/cultural aspects. In this context, the works of Tapscott and Williams (2007, 15) can be cited who argued that the “new web” has resulted in “a new economic democracy”. There is a paradigm shift in the process of news production, presentation, subscription and consumption in India. It can be said that the new web has re-defined and re-structured the process of news gathering to news dissemination. However, the ratio of free-flow of information and access to information by the marginalized communities are to be questioned? The dynamic media ownership pattern, political environment and advertising avenues have interfered in the basic fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression. It is often criticized that the mainstream media has failed to present a ‘fair representation’ to North East India. Media representation of North East India has had remained a disputed never-ending topic for public discourse among media practitioners, educators, learners and professionals. The way news on North East gets reported by dominant online news platforms often hints on exclusivity. But the emerging digital news platforms promise to fillip ‘inclusivity’. It has been observed that the most obvious notion of media misrepresentation of North East India hints at its diverse cultural background, indigenous social practices, geographical and technological limitations. The new digital platforms in North East aims to have reporting on region-centric stories and exclusive indigenous issues. Nevertheless, the social media journalism too comes with certain opportunities, threats and challenges to worry about. It can be said that with the arrival of ‘participatory digital media’, the communication approaches in developmental discourse has led to a techno-deterministic society.