Streamlining Government Communication

In the present context the channels of communications are altered significantly. The convention of newspaper pages being sacrosanct is now changed, and the reason for this is the entry of 24×7 television in the last two decades. The definition of news has changed.

The second change was that 24×7 television decided they are not meant to report but to set the agenda, and get government, politicians and civil servants to react to it. It in some way created a negative communication which is consuming unnecessary space of public domain.

What it provides?

It makes the democracy more participatory and involves every section of society streamlining the marginalized to the democratic process. It makes the government more accountable and spirit of ‘for the people’ in the democracy remains alive. The permeation of information regarding the policies, schemes, government plans helps build trust among the citizens and avoid perceptional swings which often occurred because of lack of communication. Even future doesn’t even belong to television, but to digital media.

We are a country with 900 million mobile phones; the number of smart phones is almost half of that figure and increasing. In this scenario, what does the government do and what does the civil servant do? It’s a great opportunity to connect with the people bringing the idea of m-governance and e-governance by more intensively connecting with the citizens. Government functionaries have to lead from the front. If some of them go into a shell, they are wasting an opportunity that has no cost.

What needs to be avoided?

In relation to most government activities, there’s a distinction between propaganda and information. Government’s job is not to spread propaganda. The job is to put out government-centric information. This information may not find a mention in a prime-time debate. But in spite of the width of mediums available, it still has the capacity to reach millions of people. Government’s intention of citizen-centric approach should be reflected in it.

It should be presented in a reader-friendly manner, unnecessary complexity needs to be avoided. Everybody in the ministerial team may not be as familiar with the art of dealing with the media. So slowly, everybody has to be nudged.

Role of Media in Democracy

Media played the role of 4th pillar in strengthening the democracy and making it more participatory. The media has also become more interested, not in the final decision that the government takes, but in the decision-making process. Sometimes this creates a problem. It is always believed that media’s job is to honestly and correctly present views of all. You give both sides of the picture and then suggest the more appropriate step the government should take.

Society is relatively open now and not much is secret in governance. Therefore, the use of language should be restrained. Even when there is a contrarian view, it should not be bombshell-creating. Media should be conscious of this. This is not to suggest that you don’t express yourself honestly. You are trained with your experience to do that and you must always be prepared to give the best input to the final decisions the government takes.

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