Work with 'influencers', ensure digital media isn't 'biased': Government report on 'media outreach'

The report, accessed by Hindustan Times, included recommendations from 10 ministers.

ByNL Team
Work with 'influencers', ensure digital media isn't 'biased': Government report on 'media outreach'
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A report accessed by Hindustan Times reveals that the Indian government is in the process of ramping up its media and public outreach, referred to as "government communication", “through media engagement, outreach programmes at the level of states and districts, and working with influencers”. The objective of this exercise is to “streamline communication strategy” and “remove gaps in government communication”.

A group of 10 cabinet ministers recommended ways in which criticism can be addressed and positive messaging can be spread wider. The ministers are Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar, S Jaishankar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and Union ministers Kiren Rijiju, Hardeep Singh Puri, Anurag Thakur and Babul Supriyo, Hindustan Times reported.

At the same time, the government's report also recommends tracking “negative influencers” on social media and engaging with “positive influencers” to put the “government’s view point in the right perspective.” The criterion to identify these influencers as "positive" or "negative" was not mentioned in the Hindustan Times report.

The group of ministers also proposed identifying journalists who have lost their jobs recently who are “supportive of the government or are neutral”, so that their services could be utilised by various ministries, according to the report.

The ministers' deliberations focused on evolving a multi-pronged strategy to take “10 big narratives to the people by various means such as utilising all types of media, feeding them with positive stories and testimonials, developing institutional mechanisms for structured engagements'' to cite a few. The narratives include “projecting India’s soft power, the country’s standing in the international community and marquee government initiatives such as Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Digital India.”

The government report said: “Steps have been taken to ensure that the news reporting on digital media is not biased primarily due to its foreign investment component. It has been decided to cap the foreign investment to 26 percent and the process to implement the same is under way.”

Recommendations were also made for a new communication wing and to establish a strong "fact check unit" to more effectively use the social media for targeted communication.

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