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Analysis of Media in Response to the Global COVID-19 Pandemic

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COVID 19 has become a threat to the entire world. It is proved to be deadly and has become a catalyst in creating challenges for the national and the state governments all around the world. Every government has adopted autocratic decisions to get over the nationwide health emergency. Amidst this situation, media has played a major role in the democracy by visualising rational and critical information in an objective perspective. The righteousness of the media can be well identified at the times of crisis like the ongoing state of affair (Singh, 2020). Media has a great role in influencing public belief and attitudes and their way of approaching social change (Happer & Philo, 2013). They have the capability to transmute the process of assessing, formulating, and executing social policies. With the uncensored news coverage of the global COVID 19 pandemic, medias are creating space for promoting and evaluating the issues affecting a society that has the need for implementing a new social policy (Altheid, 1991)

The comparison is made between three different media sites- Times of India, The Diplomat and Time that has reported India’s concerns regarding COVID 19. Being the second populous country in the world, India currently ranks third in the number of deaths on a daily average and ranks at 10 among the 15 nations with the highest rate of infections (Sen & Singaravelu, 2020).

‘Time of India’ reported that there were only few media reports that stood upfront revealing the reality of the country’s situation as they did not belong to any political party or community. Some of the major medias were uncritical about the government’s action towards the global pandemic. The low coverage of the public health crisis in India has depicted the veracity of the news shown on medias. They have pointed out that the current government fears criticisms and that medias supportive of the political power of India are adversely affecting the safety of the country’s citizens. The Modi government approached the court for preventing the spread of all fake and negative news after many medias were seen to publicize the terrible conditions of the migrant workers (Dhume, 2020).Times of India has also published reports of the fatalities of migrant workers commuting back to their home amidst lockdown (“750 road deaths in 2 months of lockdown,” 2020). Fear of starvation has provoked them to migrate back to their native places (“Fear of starvation driving migrants out of national capital,” 2020). This news media has denounced the government’s failure in the planning and implementation of lockdown (Dhume, 2020).

Sadhanand Dhume has compared the freedom of press in America and China with the freedom of press in India based on the freedom of speech and expression that comes under Article (19)a of the Indian constitution. The inadequacy of the United States was reported by many of the international news channels whereas the reports spreading by the Chinese media that they have contained the spread of the virus with the strict government measures has no factual evidence. In India, there are only a few news medias that has the courage to criticise the government activities who often end up being the victims of reputation slandering by the ruling political party members. The article ends with a statement that a raging pandemic in a society can create panic among the people unless there are credible media sources to counter the uncertainty with true facts (Dhume, 2020).

The strategy “What’s the Problem Represented to be” (WPR) questions the role of the government in solving the disregarded problems of a country. WPR encapsulates the need to critically scrutinize the governmental practices that leads to problematization of an issue. The impacts of governing methods and promoting more harmless substitutes are the main concerns of the WPR approach. The use of this method is an effective way to devise policies to solve the existing problems (Bacchi & Goodwin, 2016). This WPR approach can be observed in the above-mentioned article about the freedom of press in Times of India.

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The importance of social policy and the ways which it has affected the lives and choices of Australian people is illustrated in a book “Social Policy in Australia”, written by Alison and Paul. One such example is the introduction of Medibank and Medicare; it has represented a significant shift in the Australian health care policy by providing universal access to basic health care. The opinion about an effective social policy varies among different individuals based on what is desirable and what is going to thrive well (McClleland & Smyth, 2014).

The measures and policies adopted by a state of India named Kerala for fighting against the pandemic situation was famed both internally and internationally. The social policies adopted here can be understood as a process which includes the combined efforts from the state government, health departments and the medias. This persuaded people from different organisations to equip themselves in contributing to the policy development. This gives the emphasis on to social policy and the development of more social policy practitioners (McClleland & Smyth, 2014). There is a need to provide help for these workers by providing daily information about the issues that are happening in the society to analyse and come up with social policies aimed for the welfare of the society. Thus, mass media plays a major role in communicating both positive and negative information happening within the state.

In contrast to the criticism made on India for its poor COVID management plan, the international news magazine “The Diplomat” published an article on Kerala’s defence mechanism against COVID 19. It was reported that the state government made use of both traditional and new medias for circulating health related information among people. Kerala made use of print and digital news medias to carry out its COVID 19 supervision and preventive measures. A campaign named ‘Break the Chain’ was conducted all over the state urging people to work together to confront the pandemic by maintaining hand hygiene, wearing masks and by practicing social distancing. A highly successful step put forth by the state government and media was in creating and circulating the route maps of the infected person, which made it easier for the public to identify themselves if they have come across an infected person or not. All these efforts have been proven the state’s effort to flatten the curve. Kerala’s strategies of control have been publicised by many organizations including WHO and was initially considered as a model to the entire country to take inspiration from (Purayil & Malakar, 2020).

On the other hand, news report published on ‘Time’ accused major Indian medias for spreading Islamophobia during a global pandemic. As per this report, many government authorities have linked the increasing number of COVID cases to the Muslim groups who held an annual meeting in Delhi. The fear of coronavirus and religious tensions merged in this case creating more tensions within the nation. The ruling Hindu nationalists were targeting the whole Muslim community after they were seen opposing and protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act passed on December 2019 by the ruling party. They were using the coronavirus spread as a second opportunity to defame the Muslims. Public health officials have warned to give attention to other major issues faced by the citizens by the COVID pandemic rather than isolating a minority group (Perrigo, 2020). The Time report has used the WPR approach to denounce the discriminating practice adopted by the Hindu nationalist party.

To recapitulate, medias including Times of India, The Diplomat and Time has used contrasting perspectives accentuating different measures adopted by India associated with the COVID 19 pandemic. The WPR approach is observed when ‘Times of India’ addressed the government’s control on the media prohibiting critical analysis of their actions and ‘Time’s criticism on the spread of islamophobia in public platforms. The reports of ‘The Diplomat’ responded on the effective policy-making and management of it by a small state in India.

References

  1. 750 road deaths in 2 months of lockdown. (2020, June 3). Retrieved September 3, 2020, from The Times of India website: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/750-road-deaths-in-2-months-of-lockdown/articleshow/76166142.cms
  2. Altheid, D. L. (1991). The impact of television news formats on social policy. Journal of Broadcasting and the Electric Media., 35(1).
  3. Bacchi, C., & Goodwin, S. (2016). Poststructural Policy Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-52546-8
  4. Dhume, S. (2020, April 4). Coronavirus and the media: In times of crisis, a democracy needs a free press more than ever. Retrieved September 3, 2020, from Times of India Blog website: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/coronavirus-and-the-media-in-times-of-crisis-a-democracy-needs-a-free-press-more-than-ever/
  5. Fear of starvation driving migrants out of the national capital. (2020, March 27). The Times of India. Retrieved from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/fear-of-starvation-driving-migrants-out-of-national-capital/articleshow/74850481.cms
  6. Happer, C., & Philo, G. (2013). The Role of the Media in the Construction of Public Belief and Social Change. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 1(1), 321–336. https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v1i1.96
  7. McClleland, A., & Smyth, P. (2014). Social policy in Australia ebook : Understanding for action. In login.ezproxy.federation.edu.au. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.federation.edu.au/lib/ballarat/detail.action?docID=5964832#
  8. Perrigo, B. (2020, April 3). It Was Already Dangerous To Be Muslim in India. Then Came the Coronavirus. Retrieved from Time website: https://time.com/5815264/coronavirus-india-islamophobia-coronajihad/
  9. Purayil, M. P., & Malakar, S. (2020, April 4). How a Tiny South Indian State Is Using Transmedia Storytelling to Fight COVID-19. Retrieved September 3, 2020, from thediplomat.com website: https://thediplomat.com/2020/04/how-a-tiny-south-indian-state-is-using-transmedia-storytelling-to-fight-covid-19/
  10. Sagar. (2020, March 31). Hours before lockdown, Modi asked print-media owners, editors, to refrain from negative COVID coverage. The Caravan. Retrieved from https://caravanmagazine.in/media/hours-before-lockdown-modi-asked-print-media-owners-editors-refrain-negative-covid-coverage
  11. Sen, S., & Singaravelu, N. (2020, August 11). Data | India’s COVID-19 cases are the fastest growing in the world. The Hindu. Retrieved from https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-indias-covid-19-cases-are-the-fastest-growing-in-the-world/article32315424.ece
  12. Singh, B. (2020). Media in the Time of COVID-19. Economic and Political Weekly, 55(16). Retrieved from https://www.epw.in/engage/article/media-time-covid-19

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Analysis of Media in Response to the Global COVID-19 Pandemic. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-media-in-response-to-the-global-covid-19-pandemic/
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