A Study of Conventional Media Representations and Reporting of Violence in Assam
Media with the potential to widen horizons, focus attention and raise aspirations in society many a time pose conflicts with the responsibility in representation, regarding professional ethics and propriety while communicating and representing the facts which may be seen as “symbolic manipulations”. Being ‘agents of social change’, media effectiveness and appropriateness of conventional representation of violence in reference to Assam, a typical context of multi-cultural heterogenic society in India, requires to be articulated. An exploratory inquiry into procedures and criteria of news production; strategies employed to make relevant judgments about information collection, production, projection and presentation formats; and various aspects related to violence representation was conducted with respondents from media fraternity and media consumers. The interview transcripts served as primary sources of data for content analysis which was inductive and took a Grounded Theory approach with the transcripts emerging into categories on their own. The study deployed theoretical/purposive sampling based on the knowledge of the likely to be respondents’ population and the purpose of the study. Prevailing media scenario of patterned media reporting of violence is scrutinized under Johan Galtung’s models of news framing: War and Peace journalism. Commodification of news is evident in homogeneous media products. Two strong driving forces of media production, are media commercialization and dominant ideology. The study focuses on media reporting of violence and patterned presentation in regard to professional competence and media functionality. The paper highlights the relevance and applicability of conflict journalism in various media representations by drawing upon certain examples from Northeast India. It also draws attention to understand the residents of the region, their aspirations and representation in media; to appropriate positive identity, motivate self and for others to express their being. Such media coverage needs to be looked into in current context of increasing market influence and commercialization.