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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 05 March 2024

Letters to the Editor: How the emergence of ‘ghost newsrooms’ constrains local news coverage

Readers write in from Calcutta, Kanpur, Chennai, Nadia, Kazipet, Navi Mumbai and Faridabad

The Editorial Board Published 05.12.23, 06:23 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. Sourced by the Telegraph

Bad news

Sir — Teamwork is the most effective way to get a job done. A newsroom is perhaps the best example of this. Brain­storming sessions, debates about the craft of storytelling, the rush of incoming bulletins, and the hustle and bustle of the newsroom provide a conducive — inclusive — work environment for journalists to thrive. But increasing digitisation and remote work have sounded the death knell for these vibrant workspaces. A recent survey has found that several American dailies have been functioning without a single full-time reporter. The emergence of such ‘ghost newsrooms’ severely constrains local news coverage. While there can be no replacing a teeming newsroom, citizen journalism initiatives might help plug the gaps in local news.

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Sumit Das, Calcutta

Saffron surge

Sir — In three of the five states that went to the polls recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party has registered emphatic victories (“A taste of loss foretold”, Dec 4). The saffron party increased its vote share in the three heartland states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. This highlights the party’s shrewd election strategy. With these latest wins, the BJP now has 12 states under its control.

It seems that the BJP’s agenda of promoting crude nationalism and spreading religious hatred — evidenced by slogans on Ayodhya-Kashi-Mathura — resonated with the electorate. The charisma of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, is another crucial factor behind the BJP’s surge in these states. But it is too early to predict whether the ‘Modi magic’ will mesmerise voters in the general elections next year.

Dimple Wadhawan, Kanpur

Sir — The BJP bagging three of the five states where assembly elections were held recently is a reminder that no other political party has such a well-oiled election machine. These decisive mandates seemed impossible even a few months ago. This shows the importance of election campaigns and their role in changing political fortunes. It also indicates that the saffron party has consolidated a nationwide voter base that is ideologically aligned with its political agenda.

While the Congress’s intense campaigning paid off in Telangana, it dropped the ball in the heartland states. The rivalry between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan and complacency after winning the Karnataka elections seem to have cost the Grand Old Party dearly.

Shovanlal Chakraborty, Calcutta

Sir — There is not an iota of doubt that the BJP has mastered the art of winning elections. The powerful electoral juggernaut of the saffron party has marauded the Opposition despite concerns regarding rising unemployment, inflation and communal disharmony. This is a testament to the considerable sway that Narendra Modi holds over voters.

The routs in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are a loss of face for the Congress. The INDIA bloc must recalibrate its strategy in light of these losses.

Amit Brahmo, Calcutta

Sir — The editorial, “Lotus heart” (Dec 4), underscores the power of the ‘Modi magic’ in the heartland states. The strategies adopted by the Congress, including the promise of freebies, the revival of Mandal politics, the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the embrace of soft-Hindutva, seem to have had little impact on the electorate. It is time the Congress takes stock of its diminishing prospects and rethinks its electoral plans instead of relying on the influence of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Given the fact that people vote differently in the state and the national elections, the BJP, too, needs to remain on its toes and not be complacent after these wins. It should focus on growth-oriented governance in the states to ensure a clear mandate in the upcoming general elections.

V. Jayaraman, Chennai

Sir — Banking on the enduring popularity of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, was the safest bet for the saffron party in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (“Modiji and only Modiji, says BJP”, Dec 4). In contrast, the Congress’s call for a caste census found few takers. The incorporation of religious divisions in politics by the BJP has significantly changed the political landscape of India.

This hat-trick in the semi-final before the general elections shows that the saffron juggernaut is unstoppable. However, to assume that the 2024 election is a done deal for the BJP based on these assembly poll results might be far-fetched.

S.S. Paul, Nadia

Sir — The consolidation of the Muslim vote had won the Karnataka elections for the Congress earlier this year (“Southern spot”, Dec 4). It is the same story with the party’s victory in Telangana. The BJP’s promise of scrapping the Muslim quota and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s silence on this issue tilted the votes in favour of the Grand Old Party.

The outgoing BRS government led by the former chief minister, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, also failed to take steps to uplift the minority population. On the other hand, the six ‘guarantees’ announced by the Congress helped the party achieve its sole victory in the latest round of state polls.

Zakir Hussain, Kazipet, Telangana

Sir — Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the incumbent chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, was being increasingly sidelined by his party in the months leading up to the state elections (“Elections won, CM headaches for the BJP”, Dec 4). The image of Chouhan had been overshadowed by that of the prime minister in the posters put up during the campaign.

However, Chouhan is widely being hailed for the party’s superlative performance in the state elections. The BJP will now think twice before doing away with him. The charisma of the prime minister is not enough; regional satraps are crucial when it comes to winning the state polls. The BJP must realise this.

R. Narayanan, Navi Mumbai

Sir — It is significant that the Congress’s call for a caste-based census failed to make a mark while the BJP’s Hindutva politics swayed the electorate in the recently held assembly elections. The BJP’s victory in Chhattisgarh was especially unexpected. People voted in favour of the lotus simply because the Congress could not put up a formi­dable fight. This should prompt INDIA to think of a course correction.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad

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