Friday, June 4, 2010

How effective are New Media campaigns?

Very briefly, the CNN Effect emphasizes on the effect of media on government policy decisions. There have been instances where wide coverage given by the media has partially had an effect on policy. However, the CNN Effect concept has generated a lot of debates and controversies.

However, it needs to be seen how effective are the new media - blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. in having an impact on government policy. The Clinton - Lewinsky story was first broken in a blog and picked up by the media. However, the scaandal, if one may call it had little impact on Clinton's career. Back home, Shashi Tharoor's tweets led to his downfall, at least for the time being. The 'Pink Chaddi Campaign' was an equally sensationalist and radical campaign against a sensationalist and radical Muthalik. But what about real issues? What kind of issues are discussed on these new media and how many read them? Recently I got a lot of requests asking me to join the 'Save the Tiger' campaign. How many joined it? Did it have any impact at all on the government's policy on the Tiger Project and wildlife conservation in general? 

What about the education system? How many Facebook campaigns or blogs talk about the knee jerk decisions taken by the Maharashtra Education Minister on 10th and 12th standard results, admissions, percentile, 'Best of 5' etc.? How many people have responded to the call given by Ashotosh Bhatia about the duplicate frequency allocation to another radio station in Khar? Even though Sanjay Ranade and I have spoken to several media professionals, none of them have taken it up as a story.

What then is the effectiveness of the new media in shaping policy decisions? Are the heard by the people who matter? Or are they a marginal minority? Do the new media forums only take up frivolous issues and discuss them threadbare in the virtual world and then does the topic remain in the virtual world? Does anyone really care?