Impact Journalism will be a critical part of the future of news. Over time, policy makers and even the general public will opt for stories and solutions from media enterprises dedicated to Impact Journalism. The power of Impact Journalism lies in its ability to define a better world vision and help us design solutions and share perspectives to move towards a desired vision.
Today, divergent philosophies are being advocated to address issues both local and global. In this scenario, Impact Journalism has a vital role to play. It can play a super-critical role, not just in India, but globally. If you look at public discourse in many economies – even on elementary issues like health, wearing masks, social distancing, vaccine hesitancy – the situation is alarming, to put it mildly. Increasingly, in large democracies, to engage with citizens has become a challenge for governments and policy makers.
To my mind, Impact Journalism and Slow Journalism will gradually emerge as a turning point that will herald a better future for news. Impact Journalism can not only help build trust with audiences but equally hold those in power accountable. It’s true that many media houses do showcase the inherent value of Impact Journalism. While media houses are aware that public trust can be enhanced through Impact Journalism, every media house, rightly so, has its own editorial policies and priorities. However, given the screaming need for factfulness, there is abundant scope for dedicated Impact Journalism platforms – globally as well as in India.
It’s equally critical that we put an end to the debate around what Independent Journalism is; in a democracy every voice should be heard; every media outlet should be given the freedom to share their view point while reporting events. It’s true that some media channels tend to encourage public discourse that forces its audiences to take a stand – “for” or “against” – on every issue. Such trends in public discourse may destroy the natural balance one would expect from the upholders of public interest.
Every democracy needs to encourage public debate on issues of national importance. In fact, there is a school of thought that expects media outlets to not only encourage greater tolerance in public discourse, but strongly believe that media outlets should run the last mile to celebrate distinct and different viewpoints and showcase different perspectives on issues in any public discourse. We as a society should ensure that the “middle ground” is not destroyed. Sometimes the devastating ignorance of audiences, even in large democracies, come in the way of building a world view that is fact-based.
Today, news gets accessed not just through traditional media channels but to a greater extent through social media channels. The moot question is, how does a nation ensure that moulding public opinion, generating political debate, safeguarding consumer and public interest happens on ground? How do we build a worldview based on facts? Impact Journalism platforms can take on this onerous responsibility, and on a perfect day – truly enhance a nation’s “soft power”.
A frequent debate in global fora is the impact of climate change – it’s clear as daylight to thinking individuals that one cannot afford to ignore climate change with the frequency of floods, wildfires, earthquakes and droughts. These are realities all around us, all over the world. For instance, the recent Uttarakhand disaster must make us rethink the need to build thermal plants in the Himalayan regions where the ecosystem is extremely fragile. This again is an area where Impact Journalism can play a vital role.
Besides reinforcing the need to build a fact-based world view among the public and policy makers, Impact Journalism will also hold those in power to account. Impact Journalism can always share and recommend perspectives and solutions based on rigorous research to unearth and provide facts.
Globally, in public discourse, we often witness a huge swing of the pendulum – each swing seems to unleash on the ground, its own momentum in mass behaviour – in some cases, violence or in some cases, a movement towards a culture of silence. At one extreme is the tendency to portray a doomsday scenario, though data and facts point towards definite progress achieved on many fronts by the governments. We need to work towards designing deeply productive ways to explore facts and encourage debate to find solutions. This is where Impact Journalism could play a significant role.
A.P Parigi is a veteran in the Media and Entertainment industry. He co-founded Radio Mirchi and Times OOH Media.
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