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communication & journalism research
communication &
journalism
research
Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut
Kerala, India
Information for Contributors
Communication and Journalism Research is a biannual refereed journal that publishes significant original research works
and reviews in communication and journalism. Communication and Journalism Research accepts original articles in
English which have not been published and which are not
under consideration by another publication. Articles should
be between 5000 and 8000 words in length (includes everything from title to references), should be free from jargon and
should be written in English, as clearly and concisely as possible. Each article must start with an abstract.
Communication and Journalism Research accepts submissions by e-mail. Authors can submit the articles by email
to:[email protected] The file
should be saved in the ‘Word for Windows’ format. PDFs are
not accepted.
Manuscripts should be single-spaced throughout (including all quotations and footnotes). The author should retain a
copy. Full names of all author(s) should be given with their
full mailing address(es) for correspondence and e-mail
address(es). Reference should be in APA (American Psychological Association) style.
A ‘bioblurb’ of approximately 100-150 words should be
supplied for inclusion in ‘Notes on Contributors’. This should
include current and recent academic and professional affiliations, together with a list of major publications (with dates
and name of publisher) and forthcoming books.
COMMUNICATION &
JOURNALISM RESEARCH
Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut
Kerala, India
Editorial Team
Advisory Board
Prof. Syed Amjed Ahmed
Former Director
Educational Multimedia Research Center
University of Calicut
Prof. Usha Rani
Professor of Journalism
University of Mysore, Karnataka
Dr. Subash Kuttan
Head, Department of Journalism
University of Kerala
Chief Editor
Dr. Muhammadali N
Reader and Head
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut
Editorial Board
Dr. Sucheta Nair
Associate Professor
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication,
University of Calicut
Dr. Karnamaharajan
Assistant Professor
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut
Address for communication
The Chief Editor
Communication and Journalism Research
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Calicut, 673635, Kerala India
COMMUNICATION &
JOURNALISM RESEARCH
Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
.University of Calicut
Kerala, India
Published in India by
Head, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication,
University of Calicut.
[email protected], authors
All rights reserved. This article maybe used for research, teaching
and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing,
systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is
expressly forbidden.
The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied
or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. publisher shall not be liable
for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or
damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or
indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this
material.
The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect
the views of the University or of the organizations with which
they are associated. For private circulation only.
Contents
Editor’s Note
Media Consumer Perception: An Evaluation
Dr. Subash Kuttan
Gandhian influence On Malayalam Journalism
M.V. Thomas
Periodicals that Filled the Silences:
The Case of New Woman on Stage and the New Reviews
Premkumar K.P.
Political Communication Research: The Past & The Present
Abdul Muneer V.
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science
Popularization
Dr. Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
Environment Reporting in India: In Search of a Defining
Philosophy
Dr. Silajit Guha
Dreams as Narrative Pullers
Sudheer S. Salam
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the Concept of alienation
Gopakumar A.V. and Renjini T.
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption among
College Students
Anindya Deb and Dr. Silajit Guha
Editor’s Note
Communication as an academic field has a long tradition
in India, but the research related to media always tended to
be marginalized. In a democracy which is largely defined and
redefined by the media, we have every reason to raise questions relating to the role of media in various features of the
broader socio-political environment we live in. Like media as
mirrors of the society, media academia is also understood as
institutions-to–think with, enabling a second order reflexivity about the internal and external dynamics of media and
communication. ‘Communication and Journalism Research’, is
an earnest attempt to sense and recognize this responsibility
of the academic world.
Communication and Journalism Research is published twice
a year by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India. This refereed journal presents a broad-ranging account of the fast changing world
of communication, bringing together a variety of studies in
qualitative and quantitative approaches. This issue covers analyses of new and traditional media consumption, historical account of political communication and its research tradition,
science and environmental communication, and semiotic
analysis of films.
We hope that the journal will be a scholarly source of articles on communication and media. We welcome articles from
academics and researchers.
Chief Editor
Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Media Consumer Perception: An Evaluation
Dr. Subash Kuttan
Member, Faculty of Communication & Journalism ,
University of Kerala, India
Abstract
The study assessed the nature of relationship between the credibility of the media and the duration of their use. The aim was to
know whether a person who spent more number of years in using
a medium would give more credibility to that medium when compared to another person who spent less number of years in using
the same medium or else, whether the credibility of a medium was
related to the number of years of its use. Accordingly, the correlation between the total number of years spent by the respondents in
using each medium and its respective credibility rating was calculated . The result showed that there was no significant correlation
between the two. So, the study found that media credibility was
not related to duration of media use.
Another specific objective of the study was to understand the
difference if any in the credibility ratings given to the three media
based on the media dependence of the respondents. The variable of
media dependence was assessed by finding out the medium used
most often by each respondent to get news.
Introduction
A source regarded as highly credible is often more influential than a less credible source in communication. Research-
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Dr. Subash Kuttan
ers have found the relevance of the credibility variable in several communication contexts. For instance, Haiman (1949),
Hovland and Weiss (1951) have observed that more attitudinal changes can be created by highly credible sources. Likewise Bettinghaus (1980) found source credibility as the most
striking factor of a communicator’s influence in persuasive situations. Also, it was noticed that if a message originated from a
low credibility source, it was considered as more biased and
unfair than if it emanated from a source regarded as high in
credibility.
In mass communication context, the credibility possessed
by a medium can promote or impede its potency to disseminate information to the public. Rampal (1996) underscored
this assumption by observing , “ Credibility is the most precious attribute a medium can have”. Lee (1978) rightly said,
“As more people use the mass media as their main source of
information , the media must maintain the credibility of what
they present to the public”.
Earlier studies which looked at the significance of credibility in communication were carried out more with relation
to interpersonal interactions and public speaking contexts.
However, as the mass media emerged as major sources of information for the public in due course , the focus of studies
was shifted more towards credibility assessment in mass communication contexts. The relevance of assessing the credibility of mass media as sources of information acquires added
significance in the present age.
The current media scene in India shows that a variety of
mass communication channels are competing with each other
to catch the public attention . In terms of reach and coverage
our media have grown and are poised to grow further. Though
our electronic media are on an expansion spree, scathing criticisms are on the increase with regard to their performance as
sources of news.
Religious and political bias, sensationalism , subjective cov-
Media Consumer Perception: An Evaluation
erage, distortion of facts etc are some of the accusations levelled against our media personnel both from the print and
visual sectors. These types of criticisms can surely erode the
credibility of media organizations as centers of news and information which negatively affect their image.
In the light of the criticisms regarding the functioning of
media organizations, it is highly relevant to assess the level of
credibility possessed by them. Hence, the present study was
carried out to know the credibility of major mass media as
sources of news and information. The study was conducted in
Kerala, a state having a very high media exposure in India.
Kerala stands unique in many ways. With its highest percentage of literacy. largest network of educational institutions,
high political awareness and highest rate of media consumption in the country both in items of the print and the electronic media, Kerala is distinct from other states. Readership
surveys have repeatedly reported that Keralites have the highest newspaper reading habit in the country. In terms of the
reach of the electronic media, Kerala is in the forefront of
other states. Considering all these factors , Kerala seemed ideal
for carrying out the study.
Objectives of the study
The study was conducted with the major objective to understand the credibility of mass media - newspapers, television and radio as sources of news for the general public in the
state. Specifically , the study tried to determine the nature
and extent of relationship between the credibility of the three
media and the duration of their use and also to understand
the difference if any in the credibility ratings given to each of
the three media based on the media dependence of the respondents.
Methodology
In the survey conducted for the study, a multi- stage strati-
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Dr. Subash Kuttan
fied random sampling method was adopted to select the
sample. 600 respondents drawn from three randomly selected
districts representing the northern, central and southern regions of the state constituted the sample for the study.
A questionnaire and a summated rating scale formed the
tools of data collection for the study. For collecting the data
on the socio- demographic variables and the media habits of
the respondents, the questionnaire was used and the scale was
employed to get data on the credibility ratings given to the
media by the respondents. The data were analysed through
descriptive and statistical methods.
Findings
A major objective of the study was to make a comparative
assessment of the credibility attributed to daily newspapers,
television and radio as sources of news. The credibility of the
three media was assessed through a summated rating scale.
The scores given to the items on the scale by the respondents
were summed up in respect of each of the media and then the
mean of the scores was found out. The mean value of each
medium signified the credibility rating for it- higher the mean,
higher the credibility and lower the mean, lower the credibility . By determining the mean of the credibility scores given
by the sample for each medium , a comparison of the credibility ratings was possible.
A look at the mean values showed that the highest credibility rating by the sample was given to daily newspapers
followed by television and radio. While daily newspapers secured a mean of 58.6528 (std .dev. 4.2618) based on the
scores given by the total sample of the study, television received a mean value of 52.4642 (std. dev.4.8889) and radio
obtained a mean of 52.4472( std. dev. 4.7375). From this it
was evident that daily newspapers were considered as the most
credible source of news by the respondents of the study.
The differences in the credibility ratings between newspa-
Media Consumer Perception: An Evaluation
pers and radio and between newspapers and television were
found to be significant (p<0.05). Though between the two
electronic media, television secured a higher credibility rating than radio, the difference was not significant (p>0.05).
It could be inferred from the study that for the literate
people of Kerala, the print medium appeared to be more credible than the electronic media as a source of news. On the
overall, the study showed that the credibility ratings given to
all the three media were not disconcerting . That is, the mean
scores obtained for each medium were not very low. However,
the glamorous medium of television or the personal medium
of radio could only stand behind the traditional medium of
print when the question of credibility was assessed. For the
media users of Kerala , what appeared in print or in documented form turned out be the most credible.
As stated, one of the specific objectives of the study was to
determine the nature and extent of relationship between the
credibility of the media and the duration of their use. The
aim was to know whether the duration of use of the three
media in terms of number of years had any association with
the credibility attributed to each one. In other words, whether
the number of years spent by a respondent in using daily
newspapers, radio, and television had any correlation with
the respective credibility given to each of these media as a
source of news . This would help to know whether a respondent who had been using a medium for a longer period or for
more number of year attributed a higher credibility to that
medium in comparison with a respondent who had been using that medium for a shorter period.
First, the correlation between the total number of years
spent by the respondents in using daily newspapers and the
credibility rating given to that medium was assessed . The
result showed that there was no significant correlation between the two. From this it could be inferred that the duration of use of daily news papers had no association with the
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Dr. Subash Kuttan
credibility attributed to that medium by the respondents.
(see Tb.1)
Table 1 : Newspaper credibility and duration of use
(Correlation Matrix)
Correlations
Years of use
Newspaper credibility
Years of use
1.0000
0.0565
Newspaper credibility
0.0565
1.0000
No. of cases
600
( Not significant at 0.05 level)
To know the association between radio use and radio credibility , the correlation between the total number of years
spent by the respondents in listening to radio and the credibility rating assigned to that medium was assessed. The result indicated that there was no significant correlation between the two. Hence, it could be deduced that the number
of years spent by the respondents in listening to radio and
duration of use of it had no association with the credibility
possessed by that medium as a source of news (see Tb.2).
Table 2: Radio credibility and duration of use
(Correlation Matrix)
Correlations
Years of use
Radio credibility
Years of use
1.0000
-0.0119
Radio credibility
-0.0119
1.0000
No. of cases
600
(Not significant at 0.05 level)
Media Consumer Perception: An Evaluation
When the association between the number of years spent
by the respondents in watching television and the credibility
rating given to that medium as a source of news was assessed,
it was found that there was no significant correlation between
the two. Therefore, it could be concluded that the duration
of use of television had no association with the credibility
attributed to that medium ( see Tb.3)
Table 3: Television credibility and duration of use
(Correlation Matrix)
Correlations
Years of use
Television credibility
Year of use
1.0000
0.0025
Television credibility
0.0025
1.0000
No. of cases
600
(No significant at 0.05 level)
Thus, the analysis carried out to know the kind of relationship between media use and media credibility came up
with a similar type of finding in respect of all the three media
under study. That is, the duration of use of a medium and the
credibility given to that medium were found to be not correlated to each other. Hence, based on the study it can be drawn
out that whether a person has spent more number of years or
less number of years in using a medium is not associated with
the credibility attributed to it. In other words, media credibility is not related to media use.
The finding posits that in actual terms the established media
cannot take for granted that it might have a high credibility.
Even a nascent medium may sometimes acquire more credibility from the users than an established medium. Another
possible inference is that familiarity with a medium is not a
guarantee for higher credibility . This could mean that media
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Dr. Subash Kuttan
men cannot be complacent due to their organization’s long
existence.
Another specific objective of the study was to understand
the difference if any in the credibility ratings given to the
three media based on the media dependence of the respondents. Media dependence, a variable related to media habits
was assessed by finding out the medium used most often by
each respondent to get news and information. Based on the
kind of media dependence of the respondents, they were classified into three groups : those who used daily newspapers
most often, those who used television most often and those
who used radio most often to get news . Accordingly, it was
found that 76.8% of the sample depended mostly on daily
newspapers. 14.9% on television and 8.3% on radio for news.
The aim of the study was to ascertain whether the kind of
media dependence of the respondents had any bearing on the
credibility attributed by them to daily newspapers , television and radio as sources of news . In other words, to know
whether a respondent who depended mostly on a particular
medium (say daily newspaper) attributed a higher credibility
to that medium as a source of news when compared to the
other media ( television and radio).
As the first stage of the analysis, the mean of the credibility scores given to daily newspapers, television and radio as
sources of news was assessed based on three types of media
dependence of the respondents. Then, to ascertain whether
the differences in the mean values were statistically significant, the data were subjected to ANOVA.
On examining the mean values of the credibility scores to
daily newspapers as a source of news, it was found that the
highest credibility rating was accorded by the group that depended mostly on the same medium to get news. The mean
value calculated for this group was 58.8133 (std. dev.4.1959).
The lowest credibility rating for newspapers was given by the
group which depended mostly on radio to get news, indi-
Media Consumer Perception: An Evaluation
cated by the mean value of 57.4091 (std dev. 4.4057). The
mean value of newspaper credibility ratings calculated for the
group which depended mostly on television was 58.5190
(std.dev. 4.4516). Thus, the mean values indicated differences
in the credibility ratings given to daily newspapers based on
three types of media dependence. To know the significance of
the differences in the credibility ratings, the data were subjected to one- way analysis of variance. It was observed that
the F- ratio was 2.2111 at a probability level of 0.1106. This
clearly indicated that the differences in the credibility ratings
were not significant. From this it could be inferred that those
who had their dependence on daily newspaper for news and
information did not give a significantly higher credibility to
that medium when compared to the other two groups. So it
could be concluded that the variable media dependence had
no bearing on the credibility attributed to daily newspapers.
On analysing the mean values of the credibility scores given
to radio , it was observed that the highest credibility rating
was accorded by the group that depended mostly on the same
medium and the lowest rating by the group that depended
mostly on news papers. The mean value for the group which
depended on radio for news was 53.3409 (std. dev.5.1306).
The mean value calculated for the group which depended on
daily newspapers was 52.1892(std. dev.4.5741). Those who
depended on television for news secured a mean value of
53.2785 (std. dev. 5.2255), based on the credibility scores.
The verify whether the differences in the credibility ratings given by the three groups were statistically significant,
the data were subjected to one way analysis of variance. The
result showed an F- ratio of 2.6186 at a probability level of
0.0739. This indicated that the differences in the credibility
ratings were not significant. So , it could be deduced that
those who depended mostly on radio for news did not attribute a significantly higher credibility to that medium when
compared to the other two groups. Thus, the variable media
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Dr. Subash Kuttan
dependence was found to have no bearing on the credibility
given to radio as a source of news.
On assessing the credibility attributed to television, it was
noticed that the highest rating was given by the group that
depended mostly on the same medium for news and information. The mean estimated for this group was 54.0253
(std.dev.5.1788). The next higher rating for television was
given by the group which depended mostly on radio , indicated by the mean value of 53.2955(std. dev. 6.0907). The
lowest credibility rating for television was given by the group
which depended mostly on daily newspapers, evident by the
mean value of 52.0713 (std.dev.4.6214).
Though the mean values pointed out to the existence of
differences in the credibility ratings given to television by the
three groups of respondents, one- way analysis of variance was
carried out to know the significance of the differences. The
result showed an F- ratio of 6.0934 at a probability level of
0.0024. This was indicative of statistically significant differences in the credibility ratings given by the three groups.
To know among which group differences existed, the data
were subjected to Scheffe test. It was observed that statistically significant differences existed between the group which
depended mostly on television and the group which depended
mostly on daily newspapers. From the findings, it could be
inferred that those who depended mostly on television gave a
significantly higher credibility to that medium as a source of
news when compared to those who depended mostly on daily
newspapers. Hence, the variable media dependence was found
to have a bearing on the credibility attributed to television as
a source of news.
The study has revealed that people’s nature of media dependence or their habit of using a particular medium most
often to get news/ information has an influence on the credibility attributed to the visual medium. However, media dependence has no bearing on the credibility of the print me-
Media Consumer Perception: An Evaluation
dium and radio. Or else, heavy use of the print medium or
radio cannot be taken as an index of high credibility of the
two media. May be the visual dimension of television has an
influence on heavy users to perceive as more credible what
they see on the small screen.
This study was carried out within the State of Kerala. Even
though there may not be much of a difference in the credibility ratings given to mass media as source of news by media
users in other states, it is always better to study the situation
elsewhere. This will help to know whether cultural differences
prevailing in different states are creating variations in the media
credibility perceptions. More number of studies are needed
to understand the Indian media credibility in its totality.
References
Bettinghaus, E. (1980), Persuasive Communication, New York: Holt,
Reinhart and Winston, Inc.
Devito, J. (1982), Human Communication – the basic course, New York:
Harper and Row publishers.
Greenberg, B., and G.Miller(1996), ‘The effects of low credible sources
on message acceptance’, Speech Monographs 33:pp 127-36.
Heiman, F.S.(1949), ‘The effects of ethos in public speaking’, Speech
Monographs 16: p.192.
Hovland, C. and W.Weiss (1951), ‘The influence of source credibility on
communication effectiveness’, Public Opinion Quarterly 15:pp 635-50.
Hovland , C., I. Janis, H. Kelley (1953) Communication and Persuasion,
New Haven: Yale University Press.
Klapper , J. (1960), The Effects of Mass Communication, Ontario; Mac
Millan Canada Ltd.
Lee, R. (1978), ‘Credibility of newspapers and television news’, Journalism Quarterly55.
Rampal, R. (1995), ‘ Media Credibility- Case study of RTM2 and TCS5
English language news broadcasts’, Media Asia22: pp 155-62.
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Dr. Subash Kuttan
Taylor, A.T. Rosegrant, A. Mayer and T. Sampler (1977), Communicating, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc.
Ward, C. and Mc Ginnies, E.(1974), ‘Persuasive effects of early and late
mention of credible and non- credible source’, Journal of Psychology 86:
17-23.
Westley, B., and Severin, W.(1964), ‘Some correlates of media credibility’,
Journalism Quarterly 41: 325-35.
Wimmer, R.D., and Dominick, J.R.(1994), Mass Media Research–an
introduction, Belmont, California: Wadsworth, Inc.
Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
The Gandhian influence on
Malayalam Journalism
M.V. Thomas
Research Scholar
Dept. of Communication and Journalism
University of Kerala
Abstract
Gandhiji was a born journalist committed to social service.
His journalistic activities influenced the Indian Press. As a part of
it all major Malayalam newspapers during freedom struggle, associated with Mahatma Gandhi and his movement. They gave
wide coverage to his operations and full support to his ideals.
Malayala Manorama the highest circulated daily in Malayalam
wrote respectful editorials on Gandhiji’s works in South Africa
even before his arrival to Indian politics. Mathrubhumi the second highest circulated daily in the language adopted Gandhiji’s
‘Young India’ as the best model, when it was started. Kerala
Kaumudi, the wardrum of backward classes had high esteem and
respect for Mahatma Gandhi. In this study, many interesting facts
are presented on the influence of Gandhiji on Malayalam Journalism and the subject is analyzed thoroughly.
Introduction
The struggle for freedom in India from British rulers is a
unique event in human history. The war of the people against
the mighty empire was more or less with out arms or ammu-
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M.V. Thomas
nition. The weapons they used were peace, non-violence and
non-co operation. The supreme leader of the peoples movement, Mahatma Gandhi was a sage rather than a politician.
Further, Journalism was one of his main arsenals in the struggle.
A number of national and local leaders of the freedom movement were also journalists. Hence newspapers took an active
role in the freedom struggle of India.
Gandhian Era
When Tilak, the topmost leader of the Congress died in
1920, Gandhiji emerged as the supreme leader of the country. Eminent leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai
Patel, Rajagopalachari and Sarojini Naidu followed his path
of non-violence, non co-operation, sathyagraha and social reconstruction. He attained and ensured support and participation of millions of people in the struggle for the freedom of
the country. He was reverently called ‘Mahatma’ and later
acknowledged as the ‘Father of the Nation’. He led several
agitations including the Salt Satyagraha (1930) and Quit India Movement (1942) in every nook and corner of the country. Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, Communist Party
and the extremists in the Congress under the leadership of
Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose were against his approach due
to different reasons. Gandhiji tried his best to build up his
rapport between Muslims and Hindus. Unfortunately at the
fag end of the freedom struggle communal violence between
these communities immersed India in a bloodbath which
worried him extremely. Finally against his wishes the country
was divided in to two on the basis of religion when freedom
was given to these countries on 15 August 1947. He was shot
dead by a Hindu fanatic on 30th January 1948. It is noted
that rarely in the World’s history has a Nations destiny been
so inextricably linked with that of a single individual as has
been the case with Gandhi and India.
The Gandhian influence on Malayalam Journalism
Gandhiji’s Contribution to the Indian Press
Mahatma Gandhi honoured as the ‘Father of the Nation’
was a veteran and committed journalist. He considered journalism as an effective tool to convey his ideas to the masses of
India. Gandhiji defined journalism as follows, “One of the
objects of a newspaper is to understand popular feeling and
give expression to it, another is to arouse among the people
certain desirable sentiments and the third is to fearlessly to
expose popular defects.”
In order to keep away from external influences, he avoided
advertisements in his papers. He used clear and easily comprehensible language which could touch the hearts of the readers.
Gandhiji’s periodical publications were Indian Opinion(1904: a weekly in English, Tamil, Hindi and Gujarati
published in South Africa). Satyagrah(1919) an unregistered
weekly in Hindi and Gujarati, Navajeevan(1919, Gujarati
weekly), Young India (1919) and Harijan (February, Bilingual Weekly in Hindi and English).
Gandhiji’s journalistic activities influenced Indian press
tremendously in the following ways:
1.
Gandhiji’s motto that the sole aim of journalism should
be service, inspired many patriotic editors.
2.
Set example for instructional journalism or ‘views papers’. According to him views papers are not for amusement but for instruction and regulating conduct.
They(the readers) literally take their weekly lessons in
non -violence through its columns. He said that he had
taken up journalism not for its sake but merely as an
aid to what he had considered to be his mission of life.
3 . His journalism kindled the spirit of freedom among
people and gave them courage to fight against the colonial rulers in India(and in South Africa also).
4.
Contributed to the development of Gujarati language.
His clear and simple style, direct and free from all flour-
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M.V. Thomas
ishes gave Gujarati a strength and vividness of expression which was a valuable contribution to the development of the language.
5. Prevented sensational journalism in India during freedom struggle under his leadership. He advised people
to guard against sensationalism and obscenity in journalism and to refuse patronizing poisonous journals.
6.
Influenced the launching of journals in Indian languages
and English in order to promote the Gandhian style of
freedom struggle in the country.
7.
Provided opportunity to get world wide publicity not
only to his actions and opinions but also to the development of the struggle in the country.
8.
Focussed on the dangers of unnecessary and immoral
advertisements by avoiding advertisements in his journals.
9.
Gave top priority to weaker sections of the society including poor, rural, untouchables and the women
10. Besides politics, he dealt with almost all subjects relating to the day to day life of the people giving a model
to other newspapers.
Through journalism Gandhiji got opportunity to deal with
hundreds of problems faced by Indians and to propose remedies to them according to his vision and perspective.
The eventual Gandhian impact on Indian journalism during the freedom struggle is described as follows by Aruna
Sapthrishi.
“Mahathma Gandhi’s ascendancy in Indian politics and
his assumption of the leadership of the national movement
for freedom acted as an elixir to Indian journalism. The nationalist press marched shoulder to shoulder with the
Satyagraha in the non-violent struggle for freedom. It shared
the toil and sweat, the joy and agony, the trials and attributions and the triumph and tragedy of millions of men and
women who responded to the call of the Mahatma and filled
The Gandhian influence on Malayalam Journalism
the prisons of the British Raj again and again. Like them , it
sacrificed its all and refused to bend to the foreign rulers who
employed every weapon in their armoury to suppress it and
to annihilate it. Many valiant papers died never to rise again,
but many died only to rise again and then to die fresh and to
be reborn. There were also many who survived the nightmare
and the dark night of despair and threat of extinction to share
in the joy of freedom when it dawned at last. It was the finest
hour of Indian journalism and the golden era of the Indian
newspaper. Never before or after independence was there such
a tremendous outburst of patriotic fervour and total dedication to the liberation of the motherland. Many are the newspapers and journalists whose names will be written in letters
of gold in the history of the freedom movement and many
who will be remembered for all times to come for their heroism and sacrifice. In the period between 1919 and 1947, the
Indian Press was permeated with Gandhiji’s message and his
leadership was unchallenged. It was like an army marching
under the command of the liberator”.1
Gandhiji and Kerala
Gandhiji was very much interested in the social reformation and political struggles for freedom in Kerala. He was closely
associated with them through guidance whenever necessary.
In almost all struggles in the State including Khilafath Movement, Vaikkom Sathyagraha, Guruvayur Sathyagraha, agitation for Temple Entry and the struggles for Responsible Government. He was the leading mentor. Pre-Independent Kerala
was comprised of three political entities called Malabar under
direct British rule and two princely states Travancore and
Cochin. The struggles in Malabar were part of the national
struggles led by Indian National Congress and Mahatma
Gandhi, against the British Government, meanwhile the
struggles in princely states were not against the British rule,
but for social justice, civil rights, clean and efficient adminis-
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M.V. Thomas
tration and responsible government. They were led by local
organizations like Travancore State Congress and Cochin Rajya
Praja Mandalam. Congress and Gandhiji gave guidance to the
organizers of the struggles so as to connect them indirectly
with the national goals. Gandhiji, visited Kerala five times i.e.
in 1920, 1925, 1927, 1934 and 1937.
Gandhiji and Malayalam Newspapers
All major newspapers in Malayalam during freedom struggle
were associated with Mahatma Gandhi and his movement.
They gave wide coverage to his speeches, writings and political activities. The newspapers were respectful to him and gave
full support to his ideals and programmes.
Malayala Manorama
Gandhiji returned to India and started to participate in
the freedom struggles on 9th January 1915. While he was
leading the struggles in South Africam, Malayala Manorama
the highest circulated daily published from Kottayam since
1890. wrote an article on his habit of charity and patriotism
on 29th January 1908. It published another editorial
‘Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi” on 29th November 1913.
In it his biography and personal qualities were narrated. The
editorial says: “Ganhiji’s principle is that if the white people
implement any rule to destroy the Indian people, their caste
based dharmas and patriotism they should not oppose it by a
weapon of violence or injustice but to break its back bone by
entering into jail and by suffering. It is also necessary to state
that by his long acquaintance with Gandhi, the big leader
Gokhale considered him as a great statesman and patriot having very good capability for thinking, far reaching vision, efficiency and administrative skill’.2
Here due respect is given to Gandhji by Manorama at a
time when he was not well known in India and describes him
as a great statesman and patriot with the authentification of
The Gandhian influence on Malayalam Journalism
the great national leader’s words. At early times Mohandas
Karamchand Gandhi, Mr. Gandhi and Gandhiji were used to
mention him. After 1923 the term ‘Mahatma’ became common and popular.
The following editiorials published by Malayala Manorama
were entitled specifically using the words Mahatma, or
Mahatmaji, or Gandhiji
Malayala Manorama Editorials on Mahatma Gandhi
Title in Malayalam
1. Mahatmajiyude
Nirahara Vratham
Meaning in English Date of Editorial
The Fasting penance
of Mahatmaji
23 September
1924
Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
3. Mahatmajiyum
Parasyangalum
Mahatmaji &
Advertisemets
8 April
1926
4. Mahatmajiyude
Thiruvithamkoor
Sandarshanam
The visit of
Mahatmaji
in Travancore
13 October
1927
Mahatma Gandhi
29,31, May 1930
and the
depressed Class
14 September
1932
Gandhiji &
Removalof Untouchability
24 September
1922
Mahathma Gandhi
& the uplift of
Harijans
9, 10 November
1932
Welcome to
Mahatmaji
18 January
1934
2. Mahatma Gandhi
5. Mahatma Gandhi
6. Mahatma
Gandhiyum
Adhakritharum
7. Gandhjiyum
Ayithochadanavum
8. Mahatma
Gandhiyum
Harijanodharanavum
9. Mahatmajikku
Swagatham
10.Mahatmajiyum
Mahathmaji & the Harijan
Harijana Prasthanavum
8th August
1934
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M.V. Thomas
On the occasion of the first visit of Gandhiji in Travancore
Manorama wrote an editorial entitled “Mahatma Gandhi” to
welcome him: It said “He is considered first in importance
among who are living in the world today. He is considered
one among who are ever lived in the world. The whole world
praise him so irrespective of caste or religious differences. We
must think about the reason fort it.. It is sure that any emperor, head of religion, literary man or any other person living
in the world has not acquired one percent of fame, love and
respect Mahatma Gandhi is getting from the people”.3
In the editorial “ The Visit of Mahatmaji in Travancore”
Manorama wrote:
“It will be a considerable virtue if we all try to eradicate
the trouble making untouchability from the country respectfully accepting the messages of Mahatmaji.
In every editorial and article relating to Gandhiji’
Manorama honoured his greatness and directed people to accept and implement his advice and guidance in the sociopolitical struggle conducted in the state. The autobigraphy of
Gandhiji and his letters to various persons on various issues
were traslated and published in Malayala Manorama. During
all visits of Gandhiji in Travancore a representative of Manorama
accompanied him from the beginning to the end. K.P.K.
Pisharady, Asst. Editor of Manorama was the only journalist
followed him in all programme at the time of Gandhiji’s last
visit in Travancore in 1937. The report was published with
the title “Gndhiji’s Pilgrimage’.
On the day of the martyedom of Gandhiji Manorama wrote
an editorial entitled “The extinguished Universal Light”: it
says:
“We are unable to think about the cursed moment of tragedy. The pen is not moving forward while writing on it due to
unaffordable weight of emotions. Mahatma Gandhi, respected
by the whole world is surprisingly dead physically. Yes, it has
to be specially state that literally it is only a renouncement of
The Gandhian influence on Malayalam Journalism
body. Because the unique personal greatness fully filled in the
lean body the embodiment of the wonderful spiritual revolution power that the world has not seen ever before - continues
to be eternal. The ever biggest empire in the world surrendered before him. The world was slowly moving forward in
the darkness by the help of the light spread from him the
glowing globe. Meanwhile the full moon was covered by the
black clouds of dark religious hostility”.5
From this discussion it is crystal clear that Manorama under the editorship of K.C. Mamman Mappillai was respectful
to Gandhiji even before his arrival to Indian Politics. It has
been continuing and growing until his death in 1948.
Mathrubhumi
Mathrubhumi published from Kozhikode since 17 th March
1923 was a product of the freedom struggle in Kerala. It was
the mouth piece of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee. K.
Madhavan Nair, President of K.P.C.C was its first Managing
Director. K.P.KesavaMenon, the Secretary of the Party functioned as the founder Editor of Mathrubhumi. He says: “When
Mathrubhumi was started, the best model to run a newspaper
was ‘Young India’ published under the editorship of Gandhiji.
We decided to accept it as a guide Mathrubhumi an institution started as a supplementary to the national movement has
brought up the movement along with it”.6
The first issue was published on the eve of the first anniversary of Gandhiji’s imprisonment for six years on 18th March
1922. In the early stage it was published on all Tuesdays,
Thursdays and Saturdays. Mathrubhumi started to publish as
a daily newspaper on the same day of starting the Salt
Satyagraha by Gandhiji. Mathrubhumi weekly was started on
18 th January 1932, with the cover picture of Mahatma
Gandhi . The weekly published so many articles and poems
written by well known persons on Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhiji visited Mathrubhumi on 13 th January 1934 in
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30
M.V. Thomas
order to unveil the photo of its Managing Director and a veteran freedom fighter K.Madhavan Nair. Then Gandhiji said:
“My friends have told me that Mathrubhumi is an institution living by standing on its own feet. It is a rare thing. Even
in India very few newspaper are able to do so . Therefore
Mathrubhumi has a unique position among the newspapers in
India.” Mathrubhumi was the only newspaper Gandhiji ever
visited in Kerala.The newspaper was so much associated with
Gandhiji, Indian National Congress and the freedom struggle.
Kerala Kaumudi
Kerala Kaumudi started from Mayyanad near Quilon on
Ist February 1911 as a weekly newspaper it was the wardrum
of social renaissance and upliftment of backward classes especially the Ezhava community in the state. Therefore it strongly
supported freedom movement in Kerala particularly in
Travancore. “The contributions of Kerala Kaumudi and its
founder Editor C.V. Kunjuraman in the area are invaluable
and precious. It is the pioneer newspaper promoting freethinking in Kerala. In the history of the first half of the 20th
century of Kerala, especially that of Travancore, Kerala
Kaumudi and its Editor have an important position”.7
Kerala Kaumudi had high esteem and respect for Mahatma
Gandhi as he fought fiercely against untouchability and for
the upliftment of depressed classes and the poor people. “In
those days Kerala Kaumudi reported with out any omission
about Gandhiji’s Kerala visit and his speeches against untouchability. It also fully reported his meeting with, Sree Narayana
Guru at Sivagiri. It is doubtful whether there is any newspaper which has given so much publicity to the messages of
Gandhiji on eradication of untouchability, other than Kerala
Kaumudi”.8
Gandhiji’s speeches even from outside Kerala were also published. A report of a speech by Gandhiji at Madras beach after
his Kerala visit during Vaikom Sathyagraha was reported with
The Gandhian influence on Malayalam Journalism
the following passage.
“If possible I will travel from Punjab to Kanyakumari and
from Assam to Zind for attracting the attention of all Hindus
to this issue alone in order to formulate their opinion in favour
of it”9.
Gandhiji’s meeting with Sree Narayana Guru in March
1925 at Sivagiri was a historical event. C.V. Kunjuraman, an
eye witness of it wrote a report on the meeting in Kerala
Kaumudi. It contained a verbatim reproduction of the conversation between the Guru and Mahatma Gandhi. A passage
from the report is given below:
“Mahatmaji- “Swamiji, do you know whether there is any
citation in Hindu scriptures ordering untouchability?”
Swami – “No”
Mahatmaji- “Have you any difference of opinion about
the Sathyagraha going on at Vaikkom?”
Swami- “No”
Mahatmaji – “Do you think that something should be
added to the movement or some changes may be made in it?”
Swami- “As far as I know it is going on correctly. I have no
opinion to make any change in it”10.
The report of the meeting between Sree Narayana Guru
and Mahatma Gandhi was helpful to clarify the attitudes of
these great men on the fight against untouchability, especially the Sathyagraha going on at Vaikkom. Kerala Kaumudi
wanted to motivate people by publishing the report. It also
reveals its respect to these great men and the high regard between them.
However, there were some differences of opinion between
Guru and Gandhiji on some religious issues. Keala Kaumudi
highlighted them while reporting the speech of Gandhiji at
Aluva Advaitha Ashrama. The report says:
“In the speech at Advaitha Ashrama, Mahatmaji was not
hesitating to discuss the differences of opinion between himself and Sree Narayana Guru. He said that the difference was
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M.V. Thomas
on the concept of ‘One caste, One religion’ and such differences would be there on the whole period of human existence. It is impossible to unify different castes and religions by
mixing them. But it is possible to attain unity and peace
through a vision of equality and tolerance. In this way he
established his argument logically.”11
Even though Gandhiji disagreed with Sree Narayana Guru
on the concept of ‘One caste, One religion’ Keala Kaumudi
published the speech of Gandhiji prominently. Instead of criticizing Gandhiji’s comment Kerala Kaumudi praised it as a
logically presented argument. Because Gandhiji was able to
see his favouritism to the oppressed classes contained in Guru’s
dictum. “When we read between the lines we can understand
that later on Gandhiji gave preference to the upliftment of
Harijans due to the influence of Sree Naraya Guru”12.
Al. Ameen (1924-’39)
Al-ameen (1924-39) was a Kozhikkode based pro-nationalist newspaper started publication on 12th October 1924 by
Muhammed Abdu Rahiman, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi.
He was associated with the Khilafat Movement and Indian
National Congress in Malabar. Al-Ameen tried to strengthen
the national movement by fostering a spriti of nationalism
among Muslims in Malabar. Puthuppally Raghavan says:
“The declared aim of Al-ameen was to strengthen the national movement. To foster nationalism among Muslims and
to promote timely reforms and changes in the Muslim Community were also included in its aims. What was the result of
all these? While other newspapers faced opposition from government only, Al-ameen had to face it both from the Government and the conservatives among the Muslim community.
To some extent Al-ameen was a leftist newspaper.”13
Deenabandhu(1942-’63)
Deenabandhu was the most prominent newspaper in Cochin
The Gandhian influence on Malayalam Journalism
which tok active role in the freedom movement in that state.
It was the official organ of Kochi Rajya Praja Mandalam, the
leading political party of the Cochin state during the final
phase of freedom struggle in India. It was started as a weekly
on 26 th January 1942 from Thrissur. V.R. Krishnan
Ezhuthachan, the founder General Secretary of the Praja
Mandalam was the editor of the newspaper. The name
Deenabandhu was given to honour Deenabandhu C.F. Andrews
(1870-1940), an English Priest. Considering his contributions to social reformation and the freedom movement in India, Gandhiji gave him the title Deenabandhu (Friend of the
poor).
Six months after the starting of Deenabandhu, the Quit
India struggle was declared in August 1942. The newspaper
strongly supported it by publishing reports, articles and
editorals on it. The newspaper re-published an editorial from
‘Sachithan’ on police atrocities at Thrissur. The Editor V.R.
Krishnan Ezhuthachan was arrested along with other leaders
of the quit India Struggle. They were released in 1944.
Deenabandhu re-started its publication in March 1944.
But in December the government of Travancore banned its
entry into that state. A column titled ‘Thiruvithamcoore
Kathu’ (Letter from Travancore) was the provocation behind
the action.
On 26th January 1946 Deenabandhu turned into a daily
newspaper. News dispatches of news agencies APA and Reuters
were in it for the first time in Cochin State. A Malayalam
edition of Gandhiji’s Harijan was also published under the
auspices of Deenabandhu company.
Conclusion
From the above discussion it is crystal clear that Mahatma
Gandhi influenced Malayalam newspapers in many ways. Almost all major newspapers including the dailies mentioned
above strongly supported his ideals, agitations and programmes
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34
M.V. Thomas
whole heartedly. There were so many small and short lived
newspapers in Malayalam committed to the cause of freedom
and the ideals of Gandhiji. Swarat of Barrister A.K. Pillai,
Malayala Rajyam of K.G. Sankar are good examples for it. K.
Ramakrishan Pillai, Editor of Swadeshabhimani who was deported from Travancore in wrote in 1913 a biography of
Gandhiji in Malayalam 14. It may be the first biography of
Gandhiji written in any Indian language, before his return to
India from South Africa.
References
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
Aruna Sapthrishi, History of Journalism, Dominant Publishers,
New Delhi, 2005, P. 199-200.
Malayala Manorama, Editorial (Malayalam) dt. 9 November 1913.
Malayala Manorama Editorial (Malayalam) dt. 10 March 1925
Malayala Manorama Editorial (Malayalam) dt. 13 October 1927.
Malayalam Manorama Editorial (Malayalam) dt. 30 January 1948
Kesava Manon K.P., Introduction, Mathrubjumiyude Charithram
(Malayalam), vol. I Mathrubhumi Publications, KOzhikkode,
1998.
Raghavan Puthuppally, Kerala Pathrapravarthana Charithram
(Malayalam), D.C. Books, Kottayam, 2001, P. 158.
Gopalakrishnan Nedumkunnam, Kerala Kaumudi Charithram
(Malayalam), Vol. I, Kerala Kaumudi, Trivandrum, P. 196.
Kerala Kaumudi, Report (Malayalam) dt. 3 April 1925.
Kerala Kaumudi, Report (Malayalam), dt. 12 March 1925.
Kerala Kaumudi, Report (Malayalam) dt. 25 March 1925.
Gopalakrishnan Nedumkunnam, Kerala Kaumudi Charithram,
Vol. 1, P. 255.
Raghavan Perthuppally, Kerala Pathrapravarthan a Charithram, P.
216.
Ramakrishna Pillai K, Mohands Gandhi(Malayalam), ARP Press
Kunnamkulam 1913.
Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Periodicals that Filled the Silences:
The Case of New Woman on Stage
and the New Reviews
Premkumar K.P.
Research Scholar
Department of English, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
In the context of contemporary forms of alternative media,
Chris Atton stresses:
…the alternative press’s responses [to the social construction of mass media news] as demonstrated not simply by critiques of those media but by their own construction of news, based on alternative values and frameworks . . . alternative media provide information about
and interpretations of the world which we might not
otherwise see and information about the world that we
simply will not find anywhere else.(Atton, 10)
One needs no allusion or reference to argue that the role of
women in theatre has been minimal as in most other discourses. There is not much difference in her role as spectator,
actor, playwright or back stage artist. While this being the
fact, the documentation in the histories of the very few women
who could ‘trespass’ into this domain of male domination has
been more pathetic. While major histories written by men
virtually omitted the case of women, many celebrated women
historians were reluctant to include those women theatre ac-
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Premkumar K.P.
tivists who do not satisfy their standards of ‘femininity’.
By the last decades of the Victorian era, a shift in social
attitudes regarding gender relations was happening in England and elsewhere. This was marked by a constant move
away from the accepted pattern of male supremacy and female dependence towards the new pattern of gender equality.
The Woman Question, raised by Mary Wollstonecraft was
taken up later by Harriet Martineau and Charlotte Elizabeth
Tonna. Frances Trollope and Elizabeth Gaskell urged upperclass women to become active in the public sphere. In fiction,
Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot censured the patriarchal
instruments which resulted in the social marginalisation of
women.
The campaign started to generate positive effects gradually. The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, the
act of 1891 that denied men conjugal rights to their wives’
bodies without their consent and the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870 are specific cases. In the 1880s and 1890s,
the Woman Question became a vital issue in British newspapers and periodicals. Female activists, writers, artists and educators expressed their polemical views on the condition of
women and began to take the issue to the streets.
The term ‘New Woman’ was coined by British feminist
writer and activist Madame Sarah Grand in 1894. The New
Woman, a significant cultural icon of the of the fin de siècle,
departed from the stereotypical Victorian woman. She was
intelligent, educated, emancipated, independent and self-supporting. Sally Ledger summarises:
The New Woman was a very fin-de-siècle phenomenon.
Contemporary with the new socialism, the new imperialism, the new fiction and the new journalism, she
was part of cultural novelties which manifested itself in
the 1880s and 1890s. (Ledger. 31)
At the same time, The New Woman was a tempting object of
ridicule in the male dominant press and periodicals.
Periodicals that Filled the Silences:
The Case of New Woman on Stage and the New Reviews
In these ‘representations’ appeared in mainstream press,
she was young, middle-class and single on principle. She eschewed the fripperies of fashion in favour of more masculine
dress and severe coiffure. Educated than her predecessors, independent of father or husband, she was a fan of Ibsen and
Shaw. She was employed either as a journalist or teacher. She
used to smoke, ride a bicycle, used bold ‘men’s language’ and
travelled unescorted. She attended all-female clubs or societies where ideas and sexes mixed freely. She sought freedom
from, and equality with, men. In these ventures, the new
woman was prepared to turn the conventions and accepted
notions of femininity upside down. In theatre, she was very
much present in the plays of Sydney Grundy, George Bernard Shaw, Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, Henry Arthur Jones,
Harley Granville Barker and others. She is a composite product of the accelerating woman’s movement, a forerunner to
the suffragette.
The ideological and aesthetic dimensions of the image of
the new woman in the discourses of the times were suggested
by Lyn Pykett:
The New Woman was by turns: a mannish amazon and
a Womanly woman; she was oversexed, undersexed, or
same sex identified; she was anti-maternal, or a racial
supermother; she was male-identified, or manhating
and/or man-eating or self-appointed saviour of benighted masculinity; she was anti-domestic or she
sought to make domestic values prevail; she was radical, socialist or revolutionary, or she was reactionary and
conservative; she was the agent of social and/or racial
regeneration, or symptom and agent of decline.
(Richardson and Willis, p. xii)
While this is the general case, it is interesting to note the
creative and supportive gestures towards the cause of women’s
theatre shown by the British periodicals of the early twentieth century. At a time when rapid changes were happening in
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Premkumar K.P.
women’s liberation movement, mainstream press was actually
making fun of the new woman. The contributions of these
pro women periodicals draw significance in this context.
The ripples of this phenomenon were first felt in fiction.
This anticipated various discourses of a new womanhood in
the twentieth century and theatre happens to be shaken by
this new wave, a bit later. The novelists who took impulse
from this new wave often expressed their dissatisfaction with
the position of women in society. These works of fiction served
as a springboard for a debate on gender issues which remained
a taboo till then.
Playwrighting requires mastering to some degree a maledominated, public production machinery, something that
relatively few women have been able to do over the long history of the form. This is clear from the number of extant plays
by women as there is of novels. Still, theatre remained a more
potential field for women as pointed out by Gayle Austin:
Despite these difficulties, there are advantages for the
feminist critical project of studying plays. Plays allow
the reader and audience to visualize, to fill in blanks
and gaps. They provide the frameworks for productions
that can bring out many of the issues feminism finds
pressing. They combine verbal and nonverbal elements
simultaneously, so that questions of language and visual representation can be addressed at the same time,
through the medium of an actual body. They contribute a unique field of examples of women’s representation. (Goodman & Gay. 136)
The theatre was a problematic domain for modern women.
Even while offering women a career as performers, writers and
even managers since Restoration, it was not considered a respectable place for them. On the other hand, it offered them
a degree of independence while the structure remained maledominated. It placed its women on public view, in positions
of physical and emotional intimacy with men. The status of
Periodicals that Filled the Silences:
The Case of New Woman on Stage and the New Reviews
the actress was again complicated by the ‘charges’ of association with the New Woman derided by the main stream society for her sexual self-determination.
Viv Gardner opines that a serious attempt to raise the status of theatre and to create a legitimate and respectable stage
began with the second half of the nineteenth century. As per
census records, the number of women who entered theatre
either as actresses or playwrights was on increase since the last
decades of the nineteenth century. Many of them chose theatre as an independent career like journalism or teaching. Some
turned radical by the frustrations of playing roles that were
far from the reality they lived and even contrary to their personal politics. ‘The irony was that this ‘unconventional’ world
was the purveyor of some of the most conventional—not to
say reactionary—attitudes towards women in the period.’
(Gardner.17)
The age old practice of disregarding the changes happening in favour of women can be seen operational in the first
decades of the twentieth century as well. With the formation
of the suffragette Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903
followed by the Actress Franchise League in 1908, many young
women writers entered into playwrighting. Actresses too came
out to fully utilize this opportunity. Julie Holledge, the actress director in the British alternative theatre movement,
shares her own experience which makes clear how minimal
was the information that was out regarding the changes happening. In the introduction to her work on Edwardian theatre, Holledge writes:
When I began researching this book, I anticipated writing about the indirect influence of actresses active in
the women’s rights movement on the playwrights of
the time . . . Having begun my research believing that
there were no women playwrights writing between 1900
and 1920, I subsequently discovered over 400.
(Holledge, 2-3)
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Premkumar K.P.
A brief look into the women’s periodicals from English
Woman’s Journal which began in 1858 to Time and Tide started
in 1920 will reveal that a major space was allotted for the
commentary and reviews of leading Modern male dramatists
held high among the ‘new women’ of the times.
Slieve Mc Gowan wrote about A Doll’s House in The Vote in
1911:
There is no need to describe the motif of the play, since
every reader of THE VOTE has doubtless more than
an acquaintance with such a splendid piece of feminist
propaganda as ‘A Doll’s House’. . . True, the reverberation of the door as Nora slams it behind her sounds
dismal enough to those who do not read it aright. It is
Woman saying good-bye to her illusions—the illusions
that seem so fair, that in reality are so ugly.
(McGowan, 1911, p. 254)
In her 1914 article, “The Feminist Movement in Drama,”
written for the American suffrage paper, The Woman Voter,
Mary Shaw makes even stronger claims about the value and
impact of Ibsen’s work:
Ibsen’s clarion call to women in this play is,—‘Release
yourselves from the tyrannous duties imposed on you
from without’ . . . Revolutionary! Well, I should say it
was! Even to-day, thirty years after A DOLL’S HOUSE
was written . . . Ibsen’s four ‘woman plays,’ so-called—
A DOLL’S HOUSE, GHOSTS, HEDDA GABLER and
ROSMERSHOLM—thrash out the whole woman
question .
(Shaw, M. 1914 p. 13)
Reviewing Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, Francis Fenwick
Williams celebrates Bernard Shaw’s consummate ability to uphold the cause of women:
[H]ere, in the twentieth century, we find the most brilliant of our playwrights choosing, as heroine of his most
delightful play, a woman who would have been in other
ages a most unqualified ‘old maid’. . . Lady Cicely [is] .
Periodicals that Filled the Silences:
The Case of New Woman on Stage and the New Reviews
. . not so much an exception as a type—a type of true
womanhood in its modern form.
(Williams F. F.19)
In a suitably titled article What is Wrong with the Stage? published in a journal with not that suitable a name, The Catholic
Suffragist, Christopher St. John wrote in 1918:
What is wrong with the theatre is that it is for the most
part no longer an expression of an art, taken seriously
by those behind the curtain or before it, but a commercial amusement, too often in some of its forms made
the vehicle of exploiting young girls for gain.
(St. John, 67)
There are two parts to the solution she recommends for improving the quality and seriousness of theatre available—
namely, state funding and more involvement by women:
What is needed is the organisation and endowment of
the better elements in it [theatre]. If we had one of two
State-aided theatres in London where the main object
was not to make a huge profit but to give plays which
were true manifestations of the dramatic spirit, there
would still no doubt be more or less objectionable entertainments, run by private enterprise, but they would
take their proper place and would not swamp the whole
stage. . . .
There is already on foot a scheme for establishing a
Woman’s Repertory Theatre after the war, a woman’s
theatre in the sense that it is to employ women’s labour
in departments in which only men have hitherto been
used. (68)
Penny Farfan undelines the need to account for feminist practices in the theatre in the twentieth century to understand
how women “develop[ed] alternatives to mainstream theatre
practice and to the patriarchal avantgarde.” (Farfan 39) This
attention to feminist discourse in the theatre stresses the often ignored aspect of cultural reception in earlier periods.
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Premkumar K.P.
Maggie Humm makes a case for the contribution of women’s
journalism to cinema writing where she notes that mainstream
film histories ignore the work of women modernists as film
theorists and practitioners. The same press will naturally ignore the wider body of theatre activities happened in these
years (Humm 158). The “feminine” interpretations of the new
cinema of the 1920s and 1930s are evident in the context of
theatre before the turn of the century. If we look solely for
this evidence of reception in the same places where we search
for modernist or more generally literary sources, we will not
find it—except perhaps in The Freewoman and Time and Tide.
The dependence of ‘the new woman’ was very much upon
pro feminist periodicals. Women social reformers and activists of Victorian and Edwardian period produced and distributed a wide range of newspapers and periodicals as part of
their campaigns. The last decades of the nineteenth and the
early decades of the twentieth centuries saw the development
of progressive journals that covered a broad political spectrum
as well as a wide variety of issues, ranging from work, education, and law and in particular, the suffrage movement which
provided much impetus for the women’s theatre to evolve on
its own later.
These print media in particular were crucial to creating an
understanding of the scope and activities of a women’s public
sphere at the turn of the twentieth century and they were
instrumental in shaping opinion and mobilizing large- and
small-scale activist networks and reform campaigns. They provide a window into what Kate Flint terms the “reading communities” that women formed in these years.(Flint 42-43)
Though these print media have gained considerable attention, they remain conspicuously absent in narratives of British press history. The case is quite similar to what happened
in the histories and ‘herstories’ of theatre. Many feminist historians and literary studies scholars have done their best to
recover and analyse these media, but the tendency to focus on
Periodicals that Filled the Silences:
The Case of New Woman on Stage and the New Reviews
the ways in which these periodicals spoke for women has obscured how actively they sought to address readers including
men.
From the founding of the English Woman’s Journal in 1858
to Time and Tide in 1920, feminist periodicals provided venues in which women could explore and debate as editors and
writers —with the freedom afforded an independent press—
a wide range of issues pertaining to political, social, economic,
and cultural aspects of contemporary life, in order to influence public opinion.
The late-nineteenth-century periodicals offer commentaries on topics such as the treatment of women in drama by
Shakespeare and Ibsen, as well as reviews of productions at
major London theatres. But after 1909, with the proliferation of suffrage newspapers and feminist reviews, there begins
to emerge a more extensive body of theatre criticism, particularly in journals which devoted regular sections to theatre or
had regular contributors who were also active in the theatre:
for example, Christopher St. John, Cicely Hamilton, and Elizabeth Robins, to name a few.
The coverage in the pro feminist periodicals of the time
falls into three main categories. Primarily there are commentaries that do not disturb the value judgments of the male
dominant main stream press. There are umpteen reviews of
the work of leading modern male dramatists whose work was
highly regarded within the women’s movement, namely Ibsen
and Shaw. Secondly, they carry reviews and coverage of women
playwrights and developments in the production of theatre
by women such as Cicely Hamilton, Elizabeth Robins, and
Githa Sowerby. This included mainly the celebrated or accepted women playwrights of the period. Finally, there are
cases of more generic commentary on the “modern drama” or
theatre of the day, sometimes occasioned by particular productions, but also including discussions of genres, modes of
productions, audiences, and even the economics of theatre.
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Premkumar K.P.
Another fact to be considered in this context is that the
critics who contributed to the feminist press were by no means
always women, nor were these developments relevant only to
women. An illustrative case is that of Anthony L. Ellis who
addresses the topic of “Woman in the Modern Drama”. His
language, his identification of Ibsen as the “modern master”
signalling the “modern period,” and his interest in realism are
the relevant here. He argues that “the history of the Drama
has been practically the history of woman,” and traces representations of women in plays back to the Renaissance, a task
undertaken by the feminist historians as the first among the
three dimensional attempt a regaining women’s space in theatre viz. exploring the canon.
The early feminist press did comprehensive coverage of plays
by women playwrights.
For instance, in a brief review of Gertrude Vaughan’s “The
Woman With the Pack,” A. Meyers notes:
It has been contended by the eclectic that pure propaganda is outside the realms of Art (writ with a capital
‘A.’) For these few, Yeats is the apostle, and Bernard
Shaw anathema. ‘The Woman with the Pack’ is tangible proof of the fallacy of the contention. It has charm
and imagination and thrills with an emotion that is
vivid because it is sincere . . . Miss Vaughan has pictured in dramatic form the struggle between the old
world and the new, and in the delineation of the brooding spirit of woman she has shown herself a disciple not
unworthy of Yeats, whom those, yclept the elect,
immortalise as the poet of the present and the future.
(Meyers 230)
The gendered elements of reception are articulated in even
clearer terms in a review of Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and
Son:
None of the critics, so far, seem to have grasped more
than one side of the play. The woman’s side has passed
Periodicals that Filled the Silences:
The Case of New Woman on Stage and the New Reviews
without notice. I do not profess to understand the
playwright’s inmost thought; but I do understand what
it is that her glowing art depicts. Straight from the heart
of life she picks the truth, and we stand aghast as she
reveals it.
(CNB 227)
It can be safely found that while documented histories, literature anthologies and even apparent feminist studies were a
bit careful in occluding or a bit careless in including documentation of women’s deliberate ‘trespassing’ into the male
bastion of theatre, the journalists and columnists of the first
decades of the twentieth century were showing a responsibility which helped a lot in establishing the women’s theatre
movement that flourished in England and the US in the 1960s.
Mary Eagleton’s observations on Margaret Thatcher seems
fitting here:
… we need to be clear about the distinction between
‘being’ a feminist (which Margaret Thatcher clearly is
not) and producing feminist effects (which Margaret
Thatcher – inadvertently, unwillingly and in restricted
areas has done). (Eagleton.154)
The British periodicals of the early decades of the twentieth
century appear quite feminist as far as their responses towards
the dynamics of the theatre of the day is concerned. Were the
editors/scribes were conscious about this is none of our head
ache.
References
Atton Chris, Alternative Media (London: Sage, 2002), 10; 12.
C.N.B. “‘Rutherford and Son’: A Great Suffrage Play,” The Vote 20 July
1912, 227
Eagleton, Mary. Ed. 2003. A Concise Companion to Feminist Theory,
Blackwell. London.
Farfan Penny, Women, Modernism and Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2004), 1.
45
46
Premkumar K.P.
Flint Kate, The Woman Reader 1837–1914 (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1993), 42–43.
Gardner, Viv and Rutherford, Susan. (1992) The New Woman and Her
Sisters: Feminism and Theatre 1850–1914, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester
Wheatsheaf
Goodman, Lizbeth & Gay, Jane de (2002) The Routledge Reader in
Gender and Performance. Routledge, New York.
Holledge, J. (1981), Innocent Flowers: Women in the Edwardian Theatre,
London: Virago.
Humm Maggie, Modernist Women and Visual Cultures: Virginia Woolf,
Vanessa Bell, Photography and Cinema (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 158
Ledger, Sally and Scott McCracken, (eds) 1998.. Cultural Politics at the
fin de siecle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McGowan M. Slieve, Ibsen at the Court Theatre, The Vote 18 March
1911
Meyers, A. “On Our Library Table,” The Vote 20 July 1912, 230.
Richardson, Angélique, Chris Willis, (eds.) 2001. The New Woman in
Fiction and in Fact: Fin-de-siecle Feminisms. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Shaw Mary, The Feminist Movement in Drama, The Woman Voter February 1914
St. John, Christopher What is Wrong with the Stage? The Catholic Suffragist 1918.
Williams, Francis Fenwick, At the Little Theatre, The Suffragette 25 October 1912
Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of
the Past and the Present
Abdul Muneer V.
Assistant Professor of Journalism
E.M.E.A College of Arts and Science, Kondotty, Kerala, India
Abstract
The past and the current states of nature of political communication research and its possible future directions have already been
well documented by scholars like Anne Johnston (1990), Lynda
Lee Kaid (2004), and Doris A Graber (2005). Based on their
works, this article presents a panoramic view of the field of political communication research highlighting its scope, significance,
theoretical and methodological developments, and major findings.
Only major sub-fields such as Election Communication, Agendasetting, Political Learning, Priming and Framing, Political Rhetoric, Political Advertising, Political Campaign Debates etc. are covered in this review. The bibliography of this review may benefit the
new entrants to the field.
Introduction
Political communication may be defined in a layman’s language as ‘Communication of Politics’. But it has wider and
complex meaning mainly due to the interdisciplinary nature
of the discipline. To be more specific, Brain McNair (1995)
has defined ‘political communication simply as ‘purposeful
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Abdul Muneer V.
communication about Politics’. This incorporates:
1.
All forms of communication undertaken by politicians
and other political actors for the purpose of achieving
specific objectives.
2.
Communication addressed to these actors by non-politicians such as voters and newspaper columnists.
3.
Communication about these actors and their activities,
as contained in news reports, editorials, and other forms
of media discussion of politics.
Many definitions of ‘political communication’ have been
advanced, but none has gained universal acceptance. Perhaps
the best is the simplest: Chaffee’s (1975) suggestion that political communication is the “role of communication in the
political process “(p.15). (Kaid, 2004).
The study of political communication has come a long
way. If we take Aristotle’s ‘Rhetoric and Politics’ written in
350 B.C. as a starting point political messages have been noted,
dissected, and speculated about for well over, 2000 years
(Graber, 2005). However, modern political communication
relies on an interdisciplinary base that draws on concepts from
communication, political science, journalism, sociology, psychology, history, rhetoric, and others. Not limited to communication in electoral contexts, political communication also
considers the role of communication in governing, incorporating communication activities that influence the operation
of executive, legislative, and judicial bodies, political parties,
interest groups, political action committees, and other participants in political processes. (Kaid & Holtz-Bacha, 2008).
Delineating the field
The field of political communication can be explained from
different view points. It encompasses the construction, sending, receiving, and processing of messages that potentially have
a significant direct or indirect impact on politics. The message senders or message receivers may be politicians, journal-
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
ists, members of interest groups, or private, unorganized citizens. “The key element is that the message has a significant
political effect on the thinking, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals, groups, institutions, and whole societies and the environments in which they exist”. (Graber, 1993, 2005).
Given that political effects are at the heart of political science and are a key interest of many communication scholars,
one might assume that the field would be in the mainstream
of the two disciplines as judged by university level courses
and the number of articles in flagship journals. But that is
not the case. In political science, political communication remains very much a side line. It fares better in communication, but shares the limelight with many other sub disciplinary specialties (Graber, 2005).
Theoretical Diversity
The theoretical underpinnings of political communication
studies are drawn largely from the fields psychology, political
science, and communication. This mixture is hardly surprising
given the fact that political communication deals with the substance of politics along with human behaviors in response to
political messages. Hypotheses about paying attention to political messages, for example, draw heavily on selective choice
theories drawn from psychology, rational choice theories borrowed from political science, as well as uses and gratifications
theories popular in communication. Functional theories, like
uses and gratifications postulates, try to explain what kinds of
needs people attempt to gratify by their choice of particular
information. They might be knowledge needs, the desire to
gain rewards or avoid punishments, or gratification of ego-defensive needs or the desire to express cherished values (Graber,
2005). Political Communication scholars have been especially
interested in exploring how citizens with different political goals
vary in choosing and processing election-related information
(Huang, 2000 – cited in Graber, 2005)
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Abdul Muneer V.
Agenda setting remains the predominant theoretical approach to analysing the impact of media messages on audiences. Agenda-setting theorists contend that political views
of mass audiences and elites about the relative importance of
political events and about the characteristics of political actor
and political situations are shaped by the information made
available by the mass media to which they are exposed directly, or through reports from other sources (Mc Combs,
Shaw, & Weaver, 1997; Soroka, 2003 – cited in Graber, 2005).
Why Political Communication research?
Media and Politics are now like ‘Siamese twins’, both are
complementary, correlative and interdependent. “Media Politics” is pervasive, while institutions traditionally entrusted with
organizing and aggregating public preferences (Such as political parties and interest groups) have correspondingly declined in importance. It is no exaggeration to assert that the
use-even the manipulation - of the mass media to promote
political objectives is not only standard practice but in fact
essential to political survival.
This is an exciting time for research in political communication. Prompted by the early warnings sounded by Steven
Chaffee and others, the field had moved from a one-dimensional reliance on survey research to the current flourishing of
methodological diversity. Not only is the field armed with a
powerful arsenal of research tools, but also the target of interest has grown in scope and significance. (Iyengar, S, 2001).
The focus of political communication researchers has undergone drastic and revolutionary changes. Consequently, the
topics addressed by investigators are manifold. In the past,
political communication research has focused almost exclusively on political messages relating to actual events. Scholars
now realize that fictional situations presented in printed and
audio visual medial also shape people’s perceptions of the
political world that surround them. Accordingly, studies of
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
politically relevant content of mass media entertainment offerings are becoming more common. (Graber, 2005)
Doris A. Graber (2005) has put forward his list of 10 major targets that, when hit by researcher’s searchlights, would
give political communication scholars better insight into neglected aspects of the field that are especially relevant for 21st
century political problems.
Neglected aspects of Political Communication research
1
Communications policy formulation
2.
Preserving the open market place of ideas
3.
Global cultural differences
4.
Media as agents of political socialization
5.
Public Information Campaigns
6.
The rhetoric of political leaders
7.
The rhetoric of negotiations
8.
Learning limitations
9.
User-friendliness factors
10. Network analyses
Source: Graber, Doris A. (2005)
Methodological Developments
Political communication research methods are diverse,
mirroring practices in the social sciences and humanities. There
have been some fluctuations in preferences for quantitative or
qualitative methods. Proponents of quantitative methods have
soared to the top, but qualitative methods have been making
a comeback in recent years. (Graber, 2005). Public opinion
polls, surveys, focus groups and intensive interviews remain
the most common techniques for assessing which political
messages have been received by particular audiences, how the
messages have been interpreted, and what effects they have
produced in the minds of audience members (Miller, 2002 –
cited in Graber, 2005).
A survey of research methods used in 79 political communications studies reported in social science journals in 2000
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Abdul Muneer V.
showed that survey research was the primary method in 48%
of the sampled articles, content analysis was used in 20%,
whereas experimental research was used in 16% of the contributions. In 9% of the articles, intensive interviews were the
primary research methodology. Miscellaneous other techniques, including focus groups, accounted for the remaining
6% (Graber, 2004).
Political communication researchers are turning increasingly to purely, experimental studies to probe message impact. Experimental studies usually involve exposing small
numbers of individuals to selected information stimuli. Investigators then measure to what extent the stimuli have produced changes in the respondents’ fund of knowledge and in
their opinions about political matters. (Iyengar, 2001; Leshner,
2001; McDevitt & Chaffee, 2000; Neuman et al., 1992 –
cited in Graber, 2005).
Turning to data analysis methods: Political communication researchers use the familiar social science and humanities
tools, ranging from qualitative approaches, like eyeball comparisons of presidential speeches, to complex quantitative and
clinical and laboratory procedures. Investigators use multiple
analysis procedures in many research projects to ensure that
the findings are not artifacts of one particular method of analysis. Comparisons among methods also help determine which
is likely to prove most effective in particular types of research.
(Graber, 2005).
Journal Data Base in Political Communication
1.
Political Communication
2.
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
3.
Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics
4.
Journal of Communication
5.
Journal of Politics
6.
American Journal of Political Science
7.
Communication Research
8.
American Political Science Review
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
9.
New Media and Society
10. Television & New Media
11. Journal of Mass Media Ethics
12. Journal of Media and Religion
13. Journal of Media Economics
14 Popular communication
Source: Graber, Doris A. (2005)
Major Areas of Political Communication Research
Media and Politics
A. Newspapers
Do newspapers matter when it comes to politics? On first
glance, the answer seems obvious. Scholars going back to de
Tocqueville emphasize the importance of newspapers in creating an informed electorate. Modern Surveys lend credence
to this perspective by showing that newspaper readers know
more about politics than non readers (eg, Robinson & Levy,
1986; Weaver & Drew, 1993 – cited in Druckman, 2005).
Newspapers offer quantitatively more and, by some accounts,
qualitatively better political coverage than alternative media,
especially television news. In short, newspapers allegedly matter because they offer relatively expansive and superior information that leads to a more informed electorate. (Druck man
2005).
B. Television
Some research has shown that persons who are televisionreliant differ from those who rely on newspapers in terms of
political malaise, participation, voting, candidate evaluation,
and other characteristics. (McLeod, Glynn, & Mc Donald,
1983; Miller & Reese, 1982 – cited in Johnston, 1990). In
terms of media influence on the presidency, and on politics,
in general, Hahn (1987) suggests that television has person-
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alized politics, has undermined the investigatorial reporting
power of the media, and has undermined the power of the
citizen. According to Hahn, television has fostered a growing
sense of political alienation and powerlessness in the electorate. (Hahn, 1987 - cited in Johnston, 1990).
C. New Media
The fact that average citizen’s opportunities to observe their
government in action have mushroomed with the proliferation of cable television channels and the birth of the Internet
has lured scholars in to these areas. In combination, the new
venues bring a much broader spectrum of political views to
the fore and offer many new opportunities for interested citizens to participate in politics (Bucy & Gregson, 2002;
Dahlberg, 2001 – cited in Graber, 2005). Some scholars pin
their hopes on the internet for increasing civic engagement,
especially among young voters. (Delli Carpini, 2000; Shah et
al., 2001 – cited in Graber, 2005).
Election Communication
Why have multiple aspects of electoral politics remained
the most widely covered research area in recent decades?
Among many reasons is the political importance of selecting
public officials in democracies and concerns about the quality
of political messages offered to the citizens who select these
officials. The fact that elections often are exciting contests and
that they occur with a fresh caste of characters at regular intervals has also contributed to the steady popularity of this
area of inquiry. Because election messages are transmitted via
various formats of mass media, it has become a popular exercise to study and compare the different roles that various media
play in covering candidates and issues and in transmitting
other election related messages (Flower, Haynes, & Crespin,
2003 – cited in Graber, 2005).
Media coverage of elections, particularly electoral issues,
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
has transformed the election process drastically. Many researchers have focused on various aspects of election communication. Several scholars have attributed such phenomena as the
decline of political parties, the emphasis on “television competent” candidates, and the restructuring of compaign events
to media coverage of elections. (Arterton, 1984; Graber, 1989;
Joslyn, 1984; Lang & Lang, 1984l; Trent & Friedenberg, 1983
– cited in Johnston, 1990).
Although communication during elections is not the only
type of political communication, it remains a dominant interest of scholars. Several scholars have attempted to tie all of
the communication that occur during an election together.
Although the focus remains on communication from candidates to voters, there has been increased interest in looking at
communication among voters about the candidates. Of all
the areas of election communication, the influence of media
coverage of political campaign is probably the one that has
received the most attention. Researchers have argued that election campaigns are essentially communication campaigns. For
example, Tent and Friedenberg (1983, pp.15-16) assert that,
while various economic, psychological, historical, and sociological factors are important in our electoral process, “political election campaigns are campaigns of communication” and
that the core of each campaign is communication. (Johnston,
1990).
The visual components of election coverage have profoundly
been investigated by several scholars. Some of them argue that
the visual portrayal of a candidate is as important as the verbal content of reports about the candidate (Kepplinger, 1982;
Masters, Sullivan, Feola, & MC Hugo, 1987; Moriarty &
Garramone, 1986 – cited in Johnston, 1990). Some studies
have shown differences in the influence of general television
viewing, television news viewing, and newspaper reading on
candidate image perceptions, perceptions of issue stands, and
perceived importance of issues versus images (Choi & Becker,
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1987; Hofstetter & Strand, 1983; Mc Leod, Glynn, & Mc
Donald, 1983 – cited in Johnston, 1990).
Agenda-Setting research
‘Do media set the agendas? The question was first analysed
empirically by Maxwell Mc Combs and Donald Shaw in
1968. They found that the issues emphasized in the news
media during that year’s U.S. Presidential race corresponded
to the set of issues of greatest concern among undecided voters. Mc Combs and Shaw conceptualized the media coverage
as the “media agenda’ and the voters concerns as the “public
agenda”. They coined the term “agenda setting” to refer to
their hypothesis that the media agenda sets the public agenda.
The media agenda was determined through a content analysis of newspaper coverage of the election campaign. The public agenda was determined through a surveys of randomly selected undecided voters. Based on the promising results of
the 1968 study, McCombs and Shaw then expanded their
study to all voters in the 1972 presidential election. (Lasorsa,
2008). Perhaps the most investigated area of news media’s
influence is that of the ability of news to set agendas for the
public. Since the original argument by Mc Combs and Shaw
that the power of media may be in telling the public not
what to think but what to think about, researchers have attempted to develop and expand their understanding, of the
factors that may influence agenda-setting. (Johnston, 1990).
Numerous studies have tested and confirmed agenda-setting effects in general, showing that news stories influence
audiences’ overall perception of issue importance or create images of particular issues like the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf Crisis, Famine in Ethiopia, or equipment failures in nuclear facilities (Bosso, 1989; Iyenger & Simon, 1993; Rubin, 1987
– cited in Graber, 2005). Iyengar, Peters, and Kinder (1982)
found that news programs that concentrate on a particular
issue may influence viewers of the program to become increas-
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
ingly convinced of its importance (Johnston, 1990). Williams, Shapiro and Cutbirth (1983) found that media may be
more influential in setting the public’s issue agenda during a
campaign if the media provide a campaign frame for the stories. Agenda-setting effects have also been documented for
online newspapers available on the web and for InternetChatroom discussions (Althaus & Tewksbury, 2002; Roberts
et al., 2002 – cited in Graber, 2005). Many of these studies
have employed combinations of audience surveys and content analyses of the media on which audiences relied. (Kerr &
Moy 2002; Kim et al., 2002 – cited in Graber, 2005).
Major Areas of Political Communication Research reviewed
in this article
1. Media and Politics
2. Election communication
3. Agenda-setting research
4. Political Information and learning
5. Priming and Framing
6. Political Rhetoric
7. Political Advertising
8. Political Campaign debates
9. Coverage of International Politics
10. Government and Media
11. Political Cynicism and alienation
12. Politically disadvantaged groups
Political Information and Learning
One area that has received considerable attention is the
broad area concerned with the relation of political communication to political attitudes, behavior, and information. Within
this domain are included studies relating to the use and processing of political information, political knowledge acquisition, political socialization, political participation and political learning. A great deal of research effort is going in to as-
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sessments of the role played by news media in providing information that citizens need to fulfill their civic duties. This
is a highly controversial research area because there is no agreement among scholars about the requirements of democratic
citizenship and the implications of the findings about citizens’ political knowledge. Nor is there agreement about the
way political messages should be framed and expressed to assure that most voters can understand them. (Graber, 2005).
Political communication scholars also rely increasingly on
theories based on neuro-biological findings about the capacity of the human brain to absorb and store the massive
amounts of political information that people encounter in
modern environments (Damasio, 1999, 2003 – cited in
Graber, 2005). Just as progress in the neurosciences has enhanced the study of human cognitive functions, so it has
broadened insights into the role of emotions in information
processing. Neuro-science studies have shown that people find
it easier to store and recall dramatic, emotion-arousing stories
than emotionally neutral news. This happens because emotional arousal releases stimulants into the bloodstream that
sensitize perceptions and increases their impact. (Damasio
1999, 2003; Gazzaniga, 1992, 1998; Goleman, 1995 – cited
in Graber, 2005).
In a study on the schema used in political information
processing, Lodge and Hamill, (1986) suggested that voters
use various schema for processing political information with
partisan schemes being used by persons who are generally more
interested and have more knowledge about the campaign issues and policy differences among candidates. Several studies
have suggested that level of campaign, climate of the election,
phase of the campaign, and characteristics of voters influence
the processing of campaign information and decision making
during an election. (Hurley & Wilson, 1987; Whitney &
Goldman, 1985 – cited in Johnston, 1990). Other scholars
have continued to discuss the importance of information dur-
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
ing political campaigns and what effect different levels of information may have on voters’ decision making (Bositis &
Miller, 1982; Kennamer & Chaffee, 1982; McKelvey &
Ordeshook, 1986; Nimmo, 1985 – cited in Johnston, 1990).
Priming and Framing
Several aspects of information processing have inspired a
significant amount of research. They include “priming” - the
human brains’ propensity to draw on recently activated
thoughts in reacting to new information - and “framing” - the
practice of message transmitters to present messages from particular perspectives, thereby tapping into specific thinking
patterns stopped in the receivers’ brains. (Graber,2005). Evidence of priming effects confirms that people do, indeed, absorb information from news stories and that information guides
their thinking and judgments (Iyengar & Simon, 1993;
Krosnick & Brannon, 1993 – cited in Graber, 2005). For
example, news stories that mention specific problems encountered by a particular politician prime audiences to evaluate
that politician’s performance in terms of their stored reactions
to these problems rather than in terms of reactions to less
publicized issues (Valentino, Hutchings, & White, 2002 –
cited in Graber, 2005).
Message Framing, too, has a powerful impact on people’s
thinking. The same event, framed in diverse ways, can produce diverse and even conflicting reactions from audiences
whose thoughts are guided by specific frames. (Brewer 2001;
Krosnick & McGraw, 2002; Tewksbury, Jones, Peske,
Raymond, & Vig, 2000 – cited in Graber, 2005). When Sociologist Philo Wasburn (2002) compared framing of identical events covered by reporters in different countries, be documented substantial differences in the framing of events like
the 1982 Folk land war between Great Britain and Argentina, the 1990-91 Persian Gulf Crisis, and the 1996 U.S. Presidential nomination conventions. Claes de Vreese (2002) re-
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ported that television newscasts in Britain, Denmark, and the
Netherlands framed issues concerning European integration
differently and that those differences were reflected in public
opinion in these countries (Graber, 2005).
Political Rhetoric
Of the several major subfields within political communication reviewed, the sub filed concerned with the study of
political rhetoric has generated more research than any other
area. For the most part, scholars have been interested in understanding how “reality” was constructed by a politician’s
use of rhetorical strategies. (Johnston,1990). To analyse the
rhetoric of politicians, various methods have been used. Many
of the studies analysed politician’s speeches employing traditional techniques of rhetorical criticism (the Burkean Pentad,
for example), while others borrowed concepts and analytic
techniques from other domains of communication research in
order to understand political rhetoric. (Johnston, 1990).
The language used by politicians also have grabbed much
attention of the researchers. S.K. Foss (1982) showed that
presidents as campaigners tended to use more idealistic discourse but progressed to a more pessimistic view of the world
in their discourse once in office. Some researchers have depended on new technology to analyse the content of language
used by politicians. For example, Hart (1984 a, 1984 b) using a computer program called DICTION, showed how media coverage of presidents may have changed the presidents’
patterns of language use (Johnston, 1990).
Political Advertising
In recent years, social scientists have become increasingly
interested in political advertising and in political debates
(Goldstein & Freedman, 2002 – cited in Graber, 2005). Scholars want to know whether advertising messages deal with the
main issues that the candidates stress and whether it is clear
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
from news stories what precisely the candidates are proposing
or opposing. Scholars also want to know how the candidates
define themselves and define their opponents in terms of personal and professional qualifications. The content of political
advertising continues to receive attention supporting earlier
arguments the political advertising contains issue as well as
image information. A continuing interest in the study of political advertising concerns political advertising’s influence on
voters’ perceptions of the candidates, interest in the campaign,
knowledge about campaign issues, and final vote decision.
(Johnston, 1990).
Because of the increasing popularity and, in some cases,
the overwhelming success of negative advertising, research on
this form of election communication has continued to grow.
Many of the studies have shown a boomerang or backlash
effect of negative advertising on the sponsor of the act.
(Garramone, 1984; S.Merrit, 1984 – cited in Johnston,
1990). The impact of negative advertising has become a popular research focus (Burden, 2002; Gordon, Shafie, & Crigler,
2003 – cited in Graber, 2005). Researchers are eager to learn
how negative advertising affects political developments and
election outcomes. How do these messages impact what voters think and how does that differ by gender, age, and education? (Holbrook, 2002 – cited in Graber, 2005).
Political Campaign debates
Coverage of political debates and its influence on audiences have received much research attention, particularly during election times. Televised political campaign debates deserve scholarly attention:
Firstly, televised debates are the best way of reaching a
large audience of voters... secondly, there is an impressive body
of data to indicate that televised debates have an educational
impact... Thirdly, televised debates help to equalize access to
the mass media... Fourthly, televised debates allow the public
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Abdul Muneer V.
to come as close as thy can to auditioning the candidates for
national leadership... Another advantage to the democratic
process of television debates is that they force rivals to know
each other’s positions (Benoit & Sheafer, 2006). Within the
domain of political debates, American presidential debates
gained great focus. Debates for countries’ leadership (Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors) have been held in many
other countries, as well. Swedish leaders’ debates have occurred
since 1948, the year of the first American primary debate. An
Australian political debate was televised in 1958. Political
campaign debates have been held in such countries as Australia , Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Israel, New
Zealand, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden, Poland, Taiwan, and
the Ukraine. (Benoit & Sheafer, 2006 ).
Coverage of International Politics
Other amply covered topics relate to the role the media
play in enlightening citizens about international politics and
global issues. This research is almost always critical. Most researchers conclude that news stories are unbalanced, narrowly
focused on limited aspects of international happenings, and
dismissive of perspectives that differ from mainstream American views. They are also diminishing in numbers and in the
areas that are routinely covered. (Entman, 2004; Gilboa, 2002;
Kluver, 2002; Lee, Pan, Chan, & So, 2001; Soroka, 2003 –
cited in Graber, 2005).
Another area receiving attention in this field is foreign affairs coverage and the flow of news across national boundaries. The greatest concern in the literature stems from worries that news flow is one-directional, originating in western
countries and moving to Third World Countries. Another area
of concern involves western bias in reporting news from the
Third World. Past studies suggest that coverage of the Third
World involves little more than reporting of disasters, coups,
and violence. (Johnston, 1990).
Political Communication Research:
An Overview of the Past and the Present
Government and Media
Numerous scholars have shed light on the relationship
between government and media. This area has got significant
scholarly interest within the study of news and political communication. News coverage of the presidency continues to be
a major area of study. Within this area, several scholars have
analysed how media attention to the presidency had changed
the function of that office. Some research has argued that media
coverage has changed the way presidents “conduct business”
and, in extreme cases, has undermined the presidency. In
1986, a special issue of ‘Presidential studies Quarterly’ was
devoted to “The Media and the presidency”. (Johnston, 1990).
Political Cynicism and Alienation
Within the area of political socialization, some researchers
have examined the influence of media on political malaise and
Cynicism (Platetz & Entman, 1984; Zimmer, 1983 – cited
in Johnston, 1990). The potential negative effects of emotionally arousing stories have also intrigued researchers. Sensational stories may alienate some people from the media and
from politics. Failure to vote in elections has been blamed on
the negative emotions aroused by cynical stories that undermine trust in government (Cappella & Jamieson, 1997; Rahn
& Rudolph, 2001– cited in Graber, 2005).
Politically disadvantaged groups
Political communication scholars have investigated the verbally and visually created media images of politically disadvantaged groups, like people of color or women, Homo sexual,
or homeless people (Eagly & Karau, 2002; Entman & Rojecki,
2000; Gorden et al., 2003; Van Dijk, 1993 – cited in Graber,
2005). The scholars’ main concern is that these groups are
either ignored, marginalized, or shown in a distorted light
that maybe demeaning or unduly exalting. Scholars wonder
about the social impact of distorted media treatment and about
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the consequences for the self- image of members of disadvantaged groups or ostracized groups. (Graber, 2005).
Conclusion
As Lippmann (1922/1965) remarked, shining the searchlight intermittently and haphazardly on the political scene
will not produce the full picture that is needed to make sense
of the political world. What, if anything, can be done? The
paucity of resources to investigate all essentials that should be
understood makes it unlikely that political communication
researchers will ever be able to attain reasonably complete
knowledge. That makes it important to guide the research
light more deliberately to crucial targets rather than allowing
it to roam haphazardly. (Graber,2005). One of the most difficult tasks of a researcher is to stay abreast of the relevant
literature. For those who are interested in political communication, the difficult of this task may be compounded by the
interdisciplinary nature of the field. (Johnston, 1990).
This is only an attempt to give a bird’s eye view of the field
of political communication research. Reviewing and analyzing each theme and sub field would be a Herculean task.
Emergence of new technologies, evolutions of new research
tools and the inter disciplineness of political communication
research can lead it to newer horizons. Further, it is still a
developing and a growing field of the study.
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Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Traditional Media Confluence Model of
Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
Reader, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication,
University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Abstract
The study explores the nature of the interconnection between
alternative sources of science information and the public in a less
privileged social milieu, taking Sasthra Kala Jatha, a traditional
media confluence model of science popularization employed by
Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, a prominent Indian science popularization organization. Set in an active audience approach based
on reception analysis, it pinpoints the inner dynamics of the pattern of the rural peoples’ consumption and evaluation of the model.
Introduction
The report of the Royal Society published in 1985 on the
public understanding of science expressed concern that the
public at large knew little science. In that context, the results
of surveys in the US and Europe seem to make alarming reading. In Europe, for instance, 41 per cent of adults believed
that astrology was a ‘sort of scientific’ inquiry (Van Deelen,
1990), while a British survey indicated that fewer than 30
per cent of respondents knew that antibiotics could not kill
viruses (Durant et al., 1989). Such results suggest that public
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
understanding of science is largely dependent on the efficient
communication of ideas and information as well as the amount
and quality of interaction between the sources of science information and the public. Recognizing this aspect, governments in different countries have begun to focus on formulating policies for better communication of science.
Over the decades, science communication has undergone
transformation caused by the changes in the society and its
communication and pedagogic practices. For instance, the
rapid growth in science and technology has resulted in an
incremental expansion and increased complexity of the communication process. Similarly, the shifts in the nature and
magnitude of the audience as well as the emergence of new
type of sources have affected the process of science communication. Also, ‘old and new reasons for the promotion of science in public are put forward: understanding is important
for making informed consumer choices; it enhances the competitiveness of the nation’s industry and commerce; and it is
part of tradition and culture’ (Thomas and Durant, 1987;
Durant, 1993; Gregory and Miller, 1998). Questions thus
have begun to come up relating to the efficacy of science communication process as well as the methods employed in different times in different contexts.
Following the publication of Hurd’s (1958) “Science Literacy: Its Meaning for American Schools’’ a number of studies
have been carried out in science communication domain. Their
focus has changed according to the changes in the nature of
and approaches to science communication. While the first
generation studies viewed the audiences as a powerless entity
whose deficit in science knowledge should be filled, the second-generation studies followed ‘the limited effects’ approaches. Quantitative and qualitative studies of the public
understanding of science conducted in many countries have
provided important insights into the extent to which laymen
understand important scientific concepts, and into the ways
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Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
in which they seek and use scientific knowledge. A majority
of the studies focused on areas such as mass media coverage of
science, expert-to-expert communication of science, public
perception of science etc., ignoring the scope of informal
sources of science information like public science movements
and the alternative channels like traditional media. Likewise,
science communication in less privileged cultural settings including India has remained unexplored. It is in this context
that the present study was carried out.
The Study
The study attempted to reveal the nature of the interconnection between alternative sources of science information and
the public in a less privileged social milieu. For this purpose,
the investigation was conducted focusing on Sasthra Kala Jatha,
one of the alternative science communication methods employed by Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, a prominent Indian science popularization organization. KSSP communicates
its ideas and philosophy of science through a variety of print
and traditional media. In the print media sector, it brings out
three regular publications: Sasthragathi, a monthly for general public; Sasthra Keralam, a monthly for college students,
and Eureka, a biweekly for school children. In addition, it
periodically issues pamphlets and books on a wide variety of
science subjects. Besides print media, KSSP employs, Sasthra
Kala Jatha, a novel cultural program with innovative theatrical experiments and participatory communication approach
converging traditional art forms of Kerala, often along with
modern theatrical experiments like arena theatre, guerilla theatre, street drama methods etc. The traditional art forms used
by KSSP in Sasthra Kala Jathas range from Ottanthullal to
Mappilapattu and Kakkarissi Natakam to Villupattu, which are
an integral part of rural Kerala. Being indigenous art forms
born and nurtured in rural areas, they are attended to by the
village communities without any reservations. That being the
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
potential, KSSP has been employing them to communicate
science messages.
The study sought to identify the extent of the use of the
Sasthra Kala Jathas of KSSP as science information sources by
the public and to find out the socio-demographic variables
that influence the use. It also analysed the audiences’ perceived satisfaction with the Sasthra Kala Jatha in terms of its
form and content. Since KSSP, is a large organization spread
across Kerala and it uses a variety of communication channels, necessary data for the study was generated through a
sample survey.
Theoretical Framework
It is widely held that media do not bring about uniform
effects as the audience tend to be selective, motivated and
resistant to change. Thus the audiences’ perceptive and assessment of the media assume salience in evaluating media
use and effects. Based on these fundamental premises of active audience theory and reception analysis approach, the study
centered on the analysis of audiences’ use of and satisfaction
with KSSP’s much discussed traditional media confluence
model of science popularization.
Being an exploratory study, the present investigation did
not seek to examine any hypothesis. However, it has explored
a variety of internal factors that are important in determining
the efficacy of science popularization in rural settings, in particular.
The objectives of the study are to
1.
identify the use of Sasthra Kala Jatha of KSSP as science information sources.
2.
identify the socio-demographic variables that influence the use of Sasthra Kala Jatha.
3.
analyse the audiences’ perceived satisfaction with
Sasthra Kala Jathas in terms of their form and content.
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Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
Methodology
A multi-stage random sampling technique was used taking geographical units of the State such as districts, blocks
and village panchayats into consideration. From the village
panchayats which represent the rural areas of the State, a quota
sample of 480 users of KSSP channels was arrived at. However, data of 60 respondents was incomplete. The data was
collected using a four-part interview schedule that focused on
demographic details, information acquisition habits and science awareness level of the sampled population. It also extracted data on their exposure to and evaluation of the Sasthra
Kala Jathas.
To cater to the objectives two important variables were subjected for measurement in connection with audience’s use and
evaluation of this convergence system of traditional and alternative communication methods. They are regularity of the
use and perceived satisfaction with media performance. To
determine the frequency of the use of KSSP communication
channels by the audience four regularity categories were used.
They are: regular, quite often, sometimes and rare. And, these
regularity categories are predefined according to the type of
media considering the differences in their periodicity.
Perceived satisfaction with media performance refers to
audience’s satisfaction with media, based on their four form
and content parameters such as visual performance, comprehensibility of content, simplicity of language and capacity of
narration to contribute to understanding. This four-dimensional performance of the medium is an important construct
in the present work as it defines the user’s satisfaction with
operational efficiency of each medium. The evaluation scale
comprises of four statements about form and content of each
medium was prepared. The statements which pertained to
the variables of design, content, language and narration were:
a) ‘The design / visual performance is attractive’, b) ‘It is easy
to understand the content’, c) ‘The language is simple’, d)
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
‘The narration contributes to understanding’. And, the respondents were asked to choose their response from three
options such as ‘Agree’, ‘Neither Agree Nor Disagree’, ‘Disagree’.
Results
What is the use pattern of these channels among those
who depend on KSSP communication media for science information? This question is being explored in this study. Along
with this, an attempt was made to analyse the audiences’ evaluation of the channels studied, based on their four variables
such as design, content, language and presentation style (narration). Such an investigation was essential to explore the nature and depth of the audiences’ involvement and interest
with the media in terms of four vital dimensions of their form
and content. Moreover, such an assessment was critical to identify the possible areas of communication barrier and to determine the operational efficiency of the medium.
Regularity of the Use of KSSP Channels
As many as 207 (46 per cent) of the 450 respondents indicated that they regularly attended the annual Sasthra Kala
Jathas. Another 229 (50.89 per cent) respondents reported to
attending Jathas quite often, ie. once in two years. Those who
attended rarely constituted a minority of 3.11 per cent of the
respondents.
Table 1 : Regularity of the Use of KSSP Channels
KSSP Channels
Sasthra Kala Jatha
Regularity Nature
Total
Regular Quite Often Sometimes
Rare
207
(46.00)
14
(3.11)
229
(50.89)
0
(0.00)
450
(100.00)
77
78
Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
Sasthragathi
205
(45.56)
83
(18.44)
95
(21.10)
23
(5.11)
450
(100.00)
450
(100.00)
2
69
243
(0.44)
(15.33)
(54.00)
Figures in parentheses denote percentage
136
(30.22)
450
(100.00)
Pamphlets
Science Books
26
(5.78)
12
(2.67)
124
(27.56)
332
(73.78)
From such a distribution, it clearly emerges that Sasthra
Kala Jathas, the traditional medium remains the most popular science communication vehicle of KSSP, followed by
Sasthragathi, pamphlets and science books in that order. This
finding certainly assigns importance to the role of traditional
media in popularising science in contemporary rural Kerala.
It validates the assumption that the traditional art forms employed in Sasthra Kala Jathas have immense potential to increase people’s participation and hopefully initiate social
change because they are compatible with the cultural values
of the audience and are more persuasive, persistent, and personal. In addition, they are participatory in nature with ample
scope for people to play an active role in their production and
performance. Such an involvement often erases the distinction between the performer and the audience. Moreover, they
are inexpensive and affordable. They require no elaborated
stage arrangements, excessive accompaniments and intricate
microphysical movements as in the case of classical art forms.
With such unique features, these art forms provide for easy
interpersonal communication with a potential for greater impact in rural communities than the impersonal mediated channels of electronic and print media. Their cultural proximity
and traditional belongingness permit them to match well with
the cognitive competence of rural masses. Naturally, it is assumed that all these characteristics of the traditional art forms
used in the Jathas positively contribute to their popularity.
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
Such being the popularity of Sasthra Kala Jatha, which
represents the traditional media used by KSSP for science
popularisation, an effort was made to investigate whether the
demographic variables of gender, age and education had a bearing on the respondents’ frequency of attendance.
Regularity of Attending Sasthra Kala Jatha by Gender
The analysis reported in Table 1 revealed that male and
female did not differ much in the frequency of attending Sasthra
Kala Jathas. The large majority of both male and female respondents attended Sasthra Kala Jathas either ‘regularly’ or
‘quite often’.
Table 2 : Regularity of Attending Sasthra Kala Jatha by Gender
Gender Groups
Regularity Nature
Total
Regular Quite often Sometimes
Rare
Male
114
(46.72)
120
(49.18)
0
(0.00)
10
(4.10)
244
(100.00)
Female
93
(45.15)
109
(52.91)
0
(0.00)
4
(1.94)
206
(100.00)
Total
207
(46.00)
229
(50.89)
0
(0.00)
14
(3.11)
450
(100.00)
Figures in parentheses denote percentage
Pearson Chi-square: 2.03588, d f=2, p=.361351
It is to be noted that there is no significant gender difference (p=.361351) in attending the Jathas, in any of the regularity categories, possibly thanks to the relatively better gender ‘equality’ and women empowerment in Kerala.
Regularity of Attending Sasthra Kala Jatha by Age
In terms of the four age groups, there were statistically
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Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
significant differences in the way the Sasthra Kala Jathas were
attended to. The incidence of attending Sasthra Kala Jathas
‘rarely’ (8.33 per cent) and ‘quite often’ (63.33 per cent) was
dominant in the elderly age group of 50-59 years (See Table
3). The tendency of attending Sasthra Kala Jathas ‘rarely’ was
found to decreases with an increase in age of the respondents.
Table 3: Regularity of Attending Sasthra Kala Jatha by Age
Age Groups
Regularity Nature
Total
Regular Quite often Sometimes
Rare
20-29 years
58
(40.56)
84
(58.74)
0
(0.00)
1
(0.70)
143
(100.00)
30-39 years
69
(53.08)
59
(45.38)
0
(0.00)
2
(1.54)
130
(100.00)
40-49 years
63
(53.85)
48
(41.03)
0
(0.00)
6
(5.13)
117
(100.00)
50-59 years
17
(28.33)
38
(63.33)
0
(0.00)
5
(8.33)
60
(100.00)
Total
207
(46.00)
229
(50.89)
0
(0.00)
14
(3.11)
450
(100.00)
Figures in parentheses denote percentage
Pearson Chi-square: 25.0383, df=6, p=.000337
Such a distribution which was found statistically significant (p=.000337) suggests that middle and younger age
groups attended Sasthra Kala Jathas more frequently than the
elderly in rural Kerala.
Regularity of Attending Sasthra Kala Jatha by Education
As noted in Table 4, those with Plus-Two education (56.06
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
per cent) were the most regular in attending Sasthra Kala Jathas
as compared to those with PG and above (54.55 per cent),
below SSLC (38.89 per cent) and SSLC (37.19 per cent) educational qualifications. In contrast to such high regular attendance by those educational groups, less than 7 per cent graduates attended Sasthra Kala Jathas regularly. They also constituted the largest majority of those who rarely attended the
Sastha Kala Jathas. The incidence of attending Sasthra Kala
Jathas ‘quite often’ was the highest among ‘below SSLC’ respondents followed by SSLC, Degree, Plus-Two and PG and
above educational groups.
Table 4: Regularity of Attending Sasthra Kala Jatha by Education
Education Groups
Regularity Nature
Total
Regular Quite often Sometimes
Rare
Below SSLC
28
(38.89)
44
(61.11)
0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
72
(100.00)
SSLC
45
(37.19)
72
(59.50)
0
(0.00)
4
(3.31)
121
(100.00)
Plus-Two
74
(56.06)
56
(42.42)
0
(0.00)
2
(1.52)
132
(100.00)
Degree
7
(6.80)
48
(46.60)
0
(0.00)
48
(46.60)
103
(100.00)
PG and above
12
(54.55)
9
(40.91)
0
(0.00)
1
(4.54)
22
(100.00)
Total
207
(46.00)
229
(50.89)
0
(0.00)
14
(3.11)
450
(100.00)
Figures in parentheses denote percentage
Pearson Chi-square: 19.9758, df=8, p=.010444
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Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
Such an education-wise distribution of respondents in
terms of their frequency of the use of Sasthra Kala Jathas was
found to be statistically significant at a probability level of
.01044.
From the above analysis of the regularity of attending Sasthra
Kala Jathas by respondents belonging to various demographic
variables, it emerges that the variable of gender had no bearing on their attendance in Sasthra Kala Jathas organized annually by KSSP in rural Kerala. However, the demographic
variables of age and education appeared to have some influence on the regularity of attending Sasthra Kala Jathas.
Audiences’ Evaluation of Sasthra Kala Jatha
In addition to assessing the influence of demographic variables on the regularity of attending each of the channels of
KSSP, audiences’ evaluation of the channels was also carried
out. The data of such an analysis was given in Table 4.7 in
respect of Sasthra Kala Jatha’s form and content parameters
namely design (visualperformance), understandability of content, simplicity of language and style of narration.
Table 5: Evaluation of Sasthra Kala Jatha’s Form and Content
Form and Content
Parameters
Respondents’ Evaluation
Total
Agree
Neither Agree
Nor Disagree
Disagree
‘The visual
performance
is attractive’
396
(88.00)
53
(11.78)
1
(0.22)
450
(100.00)
‘It is easy to
understand
the content’.
355
(78.89)
72
(16.00)
23
(5.11)
450
(100.00)
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
‘The language
is simple’
306
(68.00)
144
(32.00)
0
(0.00)
450
(100.00)
‘The narration
contributes to
understanding’
278
(61.78)
172
(38.22)
0
(0.00)
450
(100.00)
Figures in parentheses denote percentage
A large majority of the respondents reported to be satisfied with Sasthra Kala Jatha’s form and content parameters.
An overwhelming 88 per cent of the respondents found Sasthra
Kala Jathas visually attractive. Close to 80 per cent of the respondents reported that they could understand the content
of the messages communicated through various traditional
modes employed in Sasthra Kala Jatha. The proportion of
those who were satisfied with the simplicity of language and
presentation style of the messages communicated through
Sasthra Kala Jatha was relatively less – 68 per cent and 61.78
per cent respectively. A large majority of the respondents reported to be satisfied with the Sasthra Kala Jathas’ form and
content. The visual performance of the Jathas satisfied more
viewers, followed by the understandability of content, simplicity of language and style of narration.
Conclusion
The study revealed the higher popularity of Sasthra Kala
Jatha, KSSP’s traditional media as compared to its print media among the rural folk. The impressive popularity of traditional media emanates from their special features like cultural
proximity, traditional belongingness, infotainment capability and cost-effectiveness.
It is also to be noted that the rural audiences assessed the
traditional media used by KSSP as more satisfactory in respect
of their form and content parameters as compared to that of
KSSP print media. Such an assessment owes largely to the fact
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Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil
that KSSP does not modify the original format of traditional art
forms when it incorporates new science content into them. Instead, it develops science content for traditional media imbibing the linguistic simplicity and textual comprehensibility of
the folk art forms. This method helps the rural audiences to
easily recognize and enjoy their familiar art forms and to comprehend the message presented through them.
For instance, KSSP in one of its presentations illustrated
the life story of well-known scientist Galileo Galilei through
the traditional art form of Villupattu (Villadichanpattu).
Villupattu is a folk skit performed in connection with temple
festivals. Bows (villu) adorned with small musical devices are
used to produce tunes to which artists perform their skits
with satiric folk songs. KSSP kept all these features and paraphernalia of Villupattu while telling the story of Galileo. At
the same time, it utilized the potential of the art form to
satirically present the stupidity of the clergy which tried to
swaddle the scientific truth by killing the scientist.
Using similar technique, KSSP presents many science related issues through arts forms like Komaramthullal,
Mappilapattu, Oppana, Chakyarkoothu and the like.
Audience’s positive evaluation of the form and content of traditional media used in Sasthra Kala Jathas amply reflects the
prospect of traditional art forms in rural communication in
general and in science popularisation in particular.
The most remarkable aspect of Sasthra Kala Jatha of KSSP is
that it facilitated the confluence of traditional media representing diverse cultural and ethnic groups of Kerala. Before the
introduction of Sasthra Kala Jatha, KSSP used to perform individual traditional art forms enriched with science messages as
individual programmes. The confluence of art forms began with
the innovation of Sasthra Kala Jatha. Folk art forms ranging
from Ottanthullal to Nadanpattu are perfectly mixed in the Jathas.
Each year the Jathas focus on a particular theme and the art
forms featured in it are conceived to present each aspect of the
Traditional Media Confluence Model of Science Popularization
Reception Analysis of Sasthra Kala Jathas
theme. Moreover, the Jatha as one complete programme is set
in a particular theatrical method like arena theatre (as in 2005)
or pure street theatre model (as in 2007). Thus, KSSP preserves
the identity of Sasthra Kala Jatha as a complete theatrical experience even when various traditional art forms are blended together without losing their original format.
Such a model of traditional media confluence introduced
by KSSP through Sasthra Kala Jatha has the potential to satisfy different cultural and ethnic groups in the audience. At
the same time, the confluence model provides for all segments
of the audience to enjoy the programme as a unique single
theatrical experience focusing on a particular theme. Thus, to
a certain extent, the model transcends the limitations of selective-exposure tendency of the audiences.
References
Durant, J. (1993) “What Is Scientiûc Literacy?,” in J. Durant and J. Gregory (eds) Science and Culture in Europe, pp. 129–38. London: Science
Museum.
Durant, J.R.; Evans, G.A. and Thomas, G.P.,(1989). The public understanding of science. Nature, 340 (3), 11-14.
Gregory, J. and Miller, S. (1998) Science in Public: Communication,
Culture and Credibility. New York: Plenum Trade.
Hurd, Paul. (1958). Science Literacy: Its Meaning for American schools. NY:
Educational Leadership.
Royal Society of London (1985) The Public Understanding of Science.
London: Royal Society.
Thomas, G.P. and Durant, J.R. (1987) “Why Should We Promote the
Public Understanding of Science?,” in M. Shortland (ed.) Scientiûc Literacy Papers, pp. 1–14. Oxford: Rewley House.
Van Deelen, (1990). European public perceptions of science and technology. Paper presented to Policies and publics for science and technology’ conference, held at the Science Museum, London.
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Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Environment Reporting in India:
In Search of a Defining Philosophy
Dr. Silajit Guha
Reader, Dept. of Mass Communication,
Assam University, Silchar, Assam, India
Abstract
There is a kind of ideals and values of environmental journalism that every newsroom should commit to report; the values that
exists independently of its value to humans. This must be a revelatory experience for anyone interested in the environment or in corporate regulation, and there must be an invaluable urge for environmental journalists to penetrate behind the veils of secrecy and
obfuscation that surround so many environmental stories. While
giving a closer look into the different types of environmental movements in India and many a shades in the movement for environment in terms of its ideological and political orientation, the researcher points out that newspapers content do not appear to have
anything to do with the different shades of philosophy that guide
environmental movements around the world. This apathy of treating
environment as a phenomenon with a serious interpretation for
national polity, to translate the debate of using the country as a
dumping ground by the west, to link the issue of fishing trawlers in
the deep sea with the question of sea-resource depletion or food
security are some of factors that speak of a greater malady associated with Indian environmental journalism
Environment Reporting in India: In Search of a Defining Philosophy
Introduction
During the 1970s, philosophers joined the debate of stopping the erosion of common resources known otherwise as
common property resources and a new branch of ethics was
born, environmental philosophy. Up till now, barring the
scribbling of a few maverick writers, the most circulated notion was that we were concerned about caring for the Earth
for self-interested purposes. What’s bad for the earth was bad
for us too. But by 1970, some philosophers were calling for
other values in nature to be recognized. Yes, they said, a healthy
planet is good for humans, but wildlife has its own value too
– a value that exists independently of its value to humans.
This ethical conundrum surfaces with almost every environmental decision that we face. Do we protect nature for our
sake or for its sake?
Agenda based reporting or advocacy reporting has a short
history, not more than 50 years old, in India. Environmental
reporting started hitting headlines in India with the beginning of Chipko movement and some years later, Save Narmada
(Narmada Bachao) Movement. Even twenty years down the
line, Indian media have kept on reporting on environment
only on public demand, based on local issues. It has been
argued by Downs(1972)in the context of environmental reporting that there is a spasmodic occurrences of interest. Stories fade in and fade out as the interest in the crisis wanes.
While it has been the case across the globe, reporting of environment in developed societies involves a larger spectrum as
it has been able to integrate different shades of western environmental philosophy. While western environmental philosophical thoughts like Deep Ecology, Radical Ecology or EcoFeminism have been able to make their way into the mediated discourse on environment, there has been a conspicuous
absence of any knowledge about the tenets of Indian environmentalism in media discourse of our country.
Guha and Gadgil(1995) maintained that destruction of
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Dr. Silajit Guha
environment in the western world has had primarily an adverse impact on health and natural habitats valued primarily
for science, leisure and aesthetics. But in the Third World,
the destruction has threatened the chances of survival of millions of rural people. This explains why western environmental movements has hardly ever challenged socio economic basis and ran parallel to the consumer society, whereas the environmental conflict in the third world, because of its close links
to the questions of subsistence and survival, has fiercely criticized the agenda of development promoted by both government and private parties bringing into sharp focus the fact
that there is a clear distinction between the environmental
agenda of ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’.
Indian Environmentalism
Broadly speaking Indian environmental movement can be
divided into three categories. It has material, political and
ideological contexts. The material context has been provided
by the ongoing struggle over natural resources which have got
in oppositions the social groups who have largely profited from
the indiscriminate use of land, water and other earth resources,
and group of people, like fishermen, landless poor, pastoral
nomads, small peasants whose livelihood depend on the logical use of these resources. Indian experiences show that the
problem lies at the root of developmental process initiated in
India itself. While natural resources like water and forests were
being used to produce energy and commodities (Gadgil and
Guha,1995) for the well to do, the poorer section was left to
bear the economic, social and environmental cost of economic
development whether in the form of the declining availability
of resources of physical displacement, (ibid).
The political contexts of Indian environmental movement
have tried to act against these material problems. Their modus
operandi has comprised three distinct yet interconnected set
of initiatives.
Environment Reporting in India:
In Search of a Defining Philosophy
Firstly, they tried to stop ecologically destructive practices
by organizing socially and materially deprived groups. Secondly, they tried to develop public consciousness through
media and especially by organizing working groups and ecodevelopment camps and thirdly they have tried to go for ecological rehabilitation by planting trees, rain water conservation and soil conservation to restore degraded village ecosystems and thereby enhancing availability of life indicators of
the deprived villagers.
Ideologically speaking, Indian environmental movement
is a multicoloured umbrella, with three distinct different ideological shades governing environmental movements in India
since independence.
First among them are the Gandhians who have made it a
point to view ecological degradation and social conflicts as
primarily a moral problem (ibid). These crusading Gandhians
believe that uniqueness of Indian value system lies in its ability to wear a badge of indifference in the face of economic and
material opportunities. Therefore they talk about returning
to a pre material and pre colonial village life style where humans would be again in the lap of nature, where money would
be the least important denomination of human exchange and
nature would be given back its predominant position. They
talk about Gandhi’s “Ramrajya” (ibid) and taking it literally
instead of metaphorically, try to inspire people by rejecting
material world view as it encourages wasteful life styles. In
this regard, crusading Gandhians frequently cite Hindu scriptures as exemplifying a traditional reverence for nature and
life forms.
The crusading Gandhians propagate a traditional and nonmodern ways of life and are scathing in their attack on Indian
intelligentsia who they found to be in the grip of rational
thought and economic growth syndrome. They believe environmental degradation is a direct outcome of the fact that we
are going away from nature and only a complete rejection of
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Dr. Silajit Guha
consumerist life style can save us from wasteful explanation of
natural resources.
On the other end of ideological spectrum stand the ecological Marxists. They believe, it is the unjust economic process and denials of equal access to resources that are largely at
the root of exploitation of natural resources. The rich exploit
the common property resources for their profit while poor do
so to survive. For them the problem is more at political and
economic levels rather than question of values and therefore
the creation of ‘economically just’ society is a logical precondition of special and ecological harmony. When ecological
Marxists put their ideological orientation into practice, they
organised poor for collective action in an effort to restore the
pattern of equal distribution of wealth, including ecological
one, while including various Naxalite and radical Christian
groupings. Ecological Marxists in the Indian context are perhaps most closely identified with People’s Science Movements
(PSMs)- the best known of which is the KSSP- whose initial
concern with taking science to the people has been widened
to include environmental protection. Ram Chandra
Guha(1995) feels that Ecological Marxists can be distinguished
from Gandhians in two significant respects, their unremitting hostility to tradition (and corresponding faith in modernity and modern science) and in their relatively greater emphasis on confrontational movements.
Between these two extreme shreds of polarity, one can find
the Appropriate Technology Group (ibid). This is the set of
environmentalists who are though ideologically closer to crusading Gandhians, and are in favour of using appropriate technology to sustain both development and environment. ‘Less
strident than the crusading Gandhians in its opposition to
industrial society, this strand of environmental movement
strives for a working synthesis of agriculture and industry, big
and small units, and western and eastern technological traditions. In its political emphasis on constructive work, it is closer
Environment Reporting in India:
In Search of a Defining Philosophy
to Gandhians tradition and has done pioneering work on generation & diffusion of resource conserving, labour intensive
and socially liberating technologies while in its ambivalent
attitude towards religion and criticism of traditional social
hierarchies it is quite close to western socialism’.
These three set of ideologies of environmentalism have at
one point or the other been used in certain movements and
they are not used as stationary and inherently contradictory
concepts by the ideologues. But the followers of these three
distinctly different perspectives have used different patterns
of putting their ideas into practice. While Appropriate Technologists have prepared to work on a micro scale –a group of
contiguous villages at best- to demonstrate the viability of an
alternative model of economic development, Gandhians have
a tendency to think globally and act globally. The Marxists
groups have tended to keep the activities limited to a intermediate range, may be a district or sometimes a state.
The ideological differences between these three groups have
influenced their areas of activism too. While Gandhians’ dislike of industry and urban centres have forced them to opt for
rural society, Appropriate Technologists, while accepting that
some degree of industrialization was inevitable in reality, tried
to find some technologies appropriate for the village folk. It is
only the Ecological Marxists who have tried to focus on the
industries and talked about industrial pollution and safety of
the worker.
While these three ideologies have more or less dominated
the scene, there are two more important functional ideologies
operating in tandem so far as eco-activism in India is concerned. Foremost among them is the strand called Wilderness
Protection which steadfastly has been talking about the erosion of not only wild lands, but also wild animals, especially
Big Cats. Earlier they were thoroughly pre-occupied with Big
Cats, but now over the years they have started talking about
‘species equality’ in pursuit of more extensive systems of parks
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Dr. Silajit Guha
and sanctuaries and a total ban on human activity in protected area.
The next and final strand in environment movement is
Scientific Conservation, a la, land and water degradation.
Though neither wilderness protection nor scientific conservation have been popular movements, both have been influential in persuading the Government to go for Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (modified in 1991), the Forest Conservation
Act of 1980 and Environment Protection Act 1986. Since
they have less to do with radical approaches in relation with
basic subsistence methods, they have been labeled as elitists.
But their contribution to protection of environment in India
cannot be overlooked.
Media Projections
When we see a moving visual, we tend to forget that what
we see as a macro expression is essentially a collection of many
frames, or the micro picture. In the similar vein, journalism
as a silent chronicler of history carries in the pages of a newspaper a host of micro pictures which, when connected, reveals traits of a bigger picture, bit by bit. This investigation
into the trends of environmental reporting in major newspapers of India has tried to take a look into the emerging and
existing pattern of coverage of one of the biggest concern of
humans, i.e. environment, around the world and is also an
attempt to deconstruct the larger picture by connecting
threads, both within the realm of environmental reporting
and in terms of pattern of journalism existing in the country
at the moment, outside of that immediate realm of environmental reporting.
There are some other important areas relating to ideological spectrum of environment movement which have never been
brought into focus by these newspapers, either through hard
news items or features in recent times. Though there have
been many a shade in the movement for environment in terms
Environment Reporting in India:
In Search of a Defining Philosophy
of its ideological and political orientation, the newspaper content do not appear to have anything to do with the different
shades of philosophy that guide environmental movements
worldwide.
There has been an understanding that newspapers in India are quite alive to the problems of environment and that
they give quite considerable space to the issue in an effort to
address the issue with due diligence. In fact, everywhere in
the world, the movement to save environment has always been
amply aided by media. Every time there is a movement on
some environmental issues, the activists have quite openly asked
for help from media. The same has happened in India also in
eighties and nineties during Narmada Bachao Andolan.
But this was a different decade, a decade of living in a
globalised world for the Indian media. And any expectation
about the active and serious engagement of Indian media with
the cause of environment has been shattered at the end of the
study.
The news items as we observed, merely report on what is
happening around the world in general and India in particular. Any attempt to monitor or to ascertain the underlying
philosophical threads that guide all these news items through
was found to be a futile attempt. The currents and cross currents of environmental ideology have failed to make any significant entry into the news items of the major newspapers in
India. There are some traces of wildlife conservation guided
by Deep Ecology philosophy but these are only sporadic arguments about the rights of animals over the forests or the
need to curve population around the place. So far as the tenets of Indian Environmentalism are concerned, the ideas
propagated by Appropriate Technology school has got some
oblique reference in the news items because English newspapers in India appeared to have a combined philosophy of supporting development and yet sensitive enough to advocate the
use of proper technology to be in sync with the time. This
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Dr. Silajit Guha
abject failure to grant space to different dimensions of environmental philosophy has happened principally due to the
inability of these newspapers to recognize different shades for
want of ‘domain knowledge’(Jay Mazoomdar,2006). This aversion for developing a knowledge base is also one of the reasons
of following the policy of printing news on environment on as
it come basis.
Environmental issues are largely political in nature and
are stories with a deep ideological overtone in the most developed nations. They are sometimes treated as life style issues.
But at the same time, concerted effort by media and environmental activists have forced every governmental agency to take
into consideration the environmental cost factor before any
developmental project is undertaken. Every time, a developmental issue is mooted, environmental dimension becomes
part of the discourse and when it comes to Indian newspapers, especially the agenda setting newspapers , environmental news is played up in the front page mostly when it is
discussed in the context of international politics and refers to
the comments of world leaders made in some forums.
This apathy of treating environment as a phenomenon with
a serious interpretation for national polity, to translate the
debate of using the country as a dumping ground by the west,
to link the issue of fishing trawlers in the deep sea with the
question of sea-resource depletion or food security are some of
factors that speak of a greater malady associated with Indian
environmental journalism.
The first decade of 21st century has been a witness to many
changes regarding the way of looking at environment in India. This is the decade when environmental laws in the country have been made stricter, aborigines have been given right
over the jungle lands that they have lived on so far and enough
noise has been made over the vanishing act of big cats as well
as forest land. And surely, for an average media watcher, media has been found to have played a pro-active role in terms of
Environment Reporting in India:
In Search of a Defining Philosophy
environment. But the fact is that there are certain issues about
which media have always maintained a proactive stance and
wild life conservation has been one of those issues in India.
Long back, the Maharaja of the princely state of Junagadh in
nineteenth century was famous for tiger hunting. Later on he
was forced to stop that and in fact became one of the proponents of tiger conservation after being criticised in pages of
newspapers. And now Junagadh forest is now one the most
thickly populated tiger reserves in the country. Then what are
the differences now and then in view of the fact that whole
state of affair of media has undergone a metaphorical change
and environment or wild life has become one of the most talked
about issues?
Trumbo (1994) focused on Inter media agenda setting relating to news coverage of any issue. In Indian context, it becomes relevant as has happened with tiger poaching and conservation issue where both print medium and electronic medium, respectively The Indian Express and NDTV have taken
the drum beating to a higher note and it harks back to the
philosophy of wildlife conservation philosophy mentioned by
Guha and Gadgil(1994). But the inherent problem in this
kind of reporting for wildlife conservation happens to be the
easiest for the image happy media (Boorstin, 1992) to align
with.
Vandana Shiva(1994) attacks the success of globalization
of western models of development and advanced capitalism
in colonialism and patriarchy. For her, development was thus
reduced to a continuation of the process of colonization; it
became an extension of the project of wealth creation in modern western patriarchy’s economic vision, which was based on
the exploitation or exclusion of women (of the west and the
non-west), on the exploitation and deregulation of nature,
and on the exploitation and erosion of other cultures. Across
the globe, there is now a serious discussion about the impact
of environmental degradation on women. Women in poor
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Dr. Silajit Guha
households constitute a significant contributor to maintenance
and drawing resources from common property resources.
Women and children have been found to be the worst victims
of environmental degradation in terms of health and maintenance of family life. The impact of even green house gases on
the mortality of children or on the bearing ability of women
as well as shortening of their life span because of being forced
to travel miles to bring water are some of the facts best overlooked by Indian newspapers.
There has been another knowledge gap in the reporting of
environment in the newspapers under discussion and it is their
inability to accept the existence of new politics. The politics of
environment calls for a participative action at the decision
making level. It talks globally about a new brand of decision
making process which involves a sympathetic consideration
of the views of non-urban, impoverished non-elite majority
who would be worst affected by so called development projects
because they are the stake holders in displacement. The
empathetic action on the part of the newspapers to understand the dilemmas of development, or mindless transformation of wild lands into national park, displacing and depriving aborigines of their rightful share of the eco-produce is the
call of the day in terms of interpretative journalism. Apart
from that, the newspapers also fail in their responsibility to
serve as chronicler of time because an elitist approach to history has now been rejected in favour of a more inclusive history taking within its ambit the voices of the oppressed. The
approach of these news items is thoroughly elitist from the
viewpoints of a social historian, an exclusive history which
records the process of destruction without any reference to
the destroyed.
Another serious flaw involved in the process is that the
brand of environmental reporting has been thoroughly city
based, except in a few cases. There was a time when newspersons
had reached out to the people fighting in remote villages of
Environment Reporting in India:
In Search of a Defining Philosophy
Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh to spread the messages of Narmada
Banchao Andolan, but it has now become a rarest of rare phenomenon. This near absolute rejection of rural landscape has
also made it imperative for the newspapers to depend on
agency reports when it comes to relate consumption pattern
to climate change. The dynamics of hunger and displacement
as consequent fallout of depletion of common property resources (CPR) and development projects is nearly absent in
the newspapers under discussion.
On the whole, these newspapers fail to understand that
environment is an interconnected web. A disruption in the
eco-system of Himalayas may effect a serious lapse in the food
chain of south of Godavari basin, or a reduction in under
water level in Punjab is perhaps an indication of the country
going dry. There are reports on almost every aspects of environmental crisis, but the attempt to convert these stories into
a representative picture of the crisis that looms large ahead of
us is terribly underrepresented in the agenda setting newspapers of the time and that leaves enough room for speculation
about the maladies affecting environmental journalism in the
country.
References
Boorstin,D.J(1992) The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America. New
Media. Vintage
Downs, A. (1972). Up and Down with Ecology- The Issue-Attention
Cycle, The Public Interest, 28, 38-51,.
Doyle,T., and McEachern, D., Environment and Politics, 1998 Routledge,
London.
Gadgil Madhav and Ramchandra Guha, (1992) , This Fissured Land: An
Ecological History of India, OUP, , New Delhi, University of California
Press, Berkeley, CA.
Gadgil, M. and Guha, R., (1994), Ecology and Equity; Steps Towards an
Economy of Permanence, UNRISD, Geneva.
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Gadgil Madhav and Ramchandra Guha, , (1995) Ecology and Equity: The
Use and Abuse of Nature of in Contemporary India. Penguin, Delhi.
Hay, P. and Haward, M. (1988) Comparative Green Politics: Beyond the
European Context?, Political Studies, 36:433 – 48
Nash, R., (1982). Wilderness and the American Mind, Yale University
Press, New Haven.
Shiva, V. (1994). Development, Ecology and Women, in C. Merchant (ed.)
Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory, Humanities Press, New Jersey.
Ungar, S. (1995). Social Scares and Global Warming: Beyond the Rio
Convention; Society and Natural Resources, 8, 443-456.
Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Dreams as Narrative Pullers:
A look into Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s
National award winning films
‘Mondo Meyer Upakhyan’ and ‘Kalpurush
Sudheer S. Salam
Lecturer, Department of Communication and Journalism
University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India
Abstract
Eminent film makers have used many of the unreciprocated
phenomena’s of human life as a device to construct their quality
narratives. Buddhaded Dasgupta’s use of dreams (rather than
dreaming sequences) as a device to pull off his narratives needs a
special mention , for it is holding power of the central premises
and establishing lucid presentations, also making the distinction
between manifestations and reality. An analysis of his placement
of dreams to the central characters also gives us a picture of how
effectively he uses it as a metaphor of emerging culture and human
conditions as a whole. The present article is an exploration of how
the diverse characters of Dasgupta’s films- ‘Mondo Meyer Upakhyan’
and ‘Kalpurush’ are loaded with pivotal dreams that force them to
jump out of their existential problems, thereby acting as able narrative pullers.
Introduction
There are hundreds of studies on dreams and their pur-
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poses to mankind. While some researchers suggest that dreams
serve no real purpose, many others believe that it is essential
to dream for a proper mental, emotional and physical well
being. Freud was fond of repeating that dreams provide a royal
road to the unconscious activities of the mind. In his
masterpiece, The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud makes consistent use of the metaphor of a journey. Sigmund Freud’s
theory of dreams suggested that dreams were a representation
of unconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. According
to Freud’s psychoanalytic view of personality, people are driven
by aggressive and sexual instincts that are repressed from conscious awareness. While these thoughts are not consciously
expressed, they find their way into our awareness via dreams.
(Freud,2000)
While this theory suggests that dreams are the result of
internally generated signals, Hobson(1999) does not believe
that dreams are meaningless. Instead, he suggests that dreaming is “…our most creative conscious state, one in which the
chaotic, spontaneous recombination of cognitive elements
produces novel configurations of information: new ideas. While
many or even most of these ideas may be nonsensical, if even
a few of its fanciful products are truly useful, our dream time
will not have been wasted”
Ernest Hoffman, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at
Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, Mass., suggests that
“...a possible (though certainly not proven) function of a dream
is to be weaving new material into the memory system in a
way that both reduces emotional arousal and is adaptive in
helping us cope with further trauma or stressful events.
(Hartman, 2006)
Though the discourse over the actuality of dreams is yet to
find proper resolve, they are made use of and interpreted in
multitude of ways in various art forms propagated by humans.
Filmmakers use dreams as essential helping points in their
narration of their plot. Narrative is such a way of compre-
Dreams as Narrative Pullers: A look into Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s
National award winning films ‘Mondo Meyer Upakhyan’ and ‘Kalpurush
hending space, time, and causality. Since in film there are at
least two important frames of reference for understanding
space, time, and causality, narrative in film is the principle by
which data is converted from the frame of the screen into
a diegesis - a world - that frames a particular story, or sequence
of action, in that world; equally, it is the principle by which
data is converted from story onto screen (Branigan, 1992)
Dreams often can be used to mislead the audience by making them believe that some events are actually taking place
but in reality are only dreams.
The films often illustrates in dramatic fashion that our
dream environments (composed of, say, buildings, natural
scenes, or fantastical landscapes) are all creations of our brain,
somehow. Some of these creations are as enchanting as a science fiction film by Lucas or as dramatic as a tragedy by
Coppola. In our dream world, we do not consider such landscapes and other creations to be ‘self-generated,’ though of
course both the dream setting and the image of ourselves within
the setting are fabricated by the same brain. Other components of the dream world, such as decisions, preferences, and
‘action selection’ can be construed as ‘self-generated.’ Aspects
of these self-generated processes resemble those of waking life:
Deciding which alley to run down when escaping a foe is a
similar deliberation in a dream or in waking life. (Morsella,
2010)
By expressing a life problem metaphorically, the dream
impels the individual toward his goal (often an unsocial goal)
with increased emotional power. For illustration, the writer
interprets dreams of falling, flying, paralysis, examinations,
and other common dreams. The dreamer, self-deceived, does
not recognize the purpose of his own metaphor. When he
does, dreams have no further danger for him. The more courageously and realistically one meets the problems of life, the
less one dreams, but absence of dreams may also be due to
lack of imagination (Alder, 1936)
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Sudheer S. Salam
Many film makers around the world has used dreams as a
device to pull on the narratives and built on it. Budhadeb
DasGupta, one of the most renowned filmmaker of India is
one who presents dreams as a narrative device to hold the movie
and to ‘pull’ the narrative through a chain of events. His two
recent surrealistic films ‘Mondo Meyer Upakyan’ (Life at the
Throw of a Dice) and ‘Kaalpurush’(Memories in the mist) which
also won the highest accolades of India, the National awards
for best films, rightly exemplify how this technique can be
wisely used by the filmmakers of caliber, extraordinary. In all
of his films, the poetic notion of dream has a prominence,
rarely if ever to be found in the political or social film. Every
character are planted with a definite dream, much varied from
their immediate materialistic circumstances, one which is quite
difficult to attain, the struggle for which propel the entire
plot to a more phantasmagoric finale.
The moon landing to flare up child dreams
‘Mondo meyer Upakhyan’(2002) tells about the fourteen
year old Lati’s pursuit for liberation from a type of life that
has been programmed for her by her mother Rajani, the mistress of unfashionable brothel. Rajani on the other hand is
not wicked or ruthless as you expect of her. She is but is trying to give her daughter a better living status than that of any
usual whore residing in the brothel. She locates a wealthy
middle-aged man named Natabar Paladhi, who finds it the
most lovable hobby to watch pornographic films in his own
theatre. Paladhi is also hoping to take the adolescent Lati as
his mistress, along with her mother in a house that has been
built especially for her. The girl is but disgusted at the options of a life offered to her where she is remain as a plaything
of a man who is more than four times her age. She is more
focused on her own ambition of pursuing her education than
to approve such an agreement. However, Rajani has already
taken Lati out of her school as a first step in preparing her for
Dreams as Narrative Pullers: A look into Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s
National award winning films ‘Mondo Meyer Upakhyan’ and ‘Kalpurush
the new career. But Lati tries to keep in contact with her learning exercises with the help of her young friend Shibu and the
teacher Nagen whom she greatly admires. Her desperate attempts to learn, finally forces her to renounce a life of prostitution and to run away to Calcutta with her teacher who has
been promoted to a school there. The most interesting aspect of the movie is its narrative technique where Lati’s story
is narrated parallel to the man’s attempt to land on moon and
finally her liberation from the village and the brothel is interestingly placed on the same day as the man’s first moon landing.
In two of the subplots of the movie are three young prostitutes who are also seeking to break free from a profession
that binds them in thraldom, and an infirm elderly couple
who are forced to be on Ganesh’s Jeep (driver of Paladhi),
travelling around hidden in its dickie to find a hospital. It is
more than a poetic connotation to say that for Lati’s dreaming of being in Calcutta for pursuing her education from a
distant, isolated village is more like what had been the dream
of being in moon to Neil Armstrong and the entire mankind.
It even seems further away and harder to get into Calcutta
than the moon landing itself. Also depicted are the other moons
to be reached for by the other characters on screen, such as
the promotion in Calcutta to which the country School master is headed. Interestingly, in the entire film, the school teacher
of Lati is shown always in a bicycle travelling across frames,
but never is he shown teaching in some school.
The three young prostitutes is the movie realize of their ‘
moons’ only in the finale of the narratives- the desire of ultimate freedom from exploitation where there is reciprocal love
and wholesome satisfaction. The entire characters in the movie,
except Lati and Rejani does not seem to have solid ideas of
how to reach their moons (dreams) and the journey to it’s
fulfilment is likely to be as subjected to probabilities and
chances, as the elderly couple finally settle down in excite-
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Sudheer S. Salam
ment and fulfilment with the play of ludo rather than looking for proper medication. They were traveling far and wide
hiding in the jeep in the dreams of locating a distant hospital,
the possibility of which is mentioned intermittently but never
ever shown. But it seems that the entire travelling for days,
the rarest of the things that may have happened in their life,
has transformed them from ailing seniors at decrepitude to
young minds who could even enjoy the childish games.
Whether they are ultimately successful or not is of no interest; what matters is that they from their adverse conditions
are human enough to dream and courageous enough to realize their fulfilment and their dreams in a Ludo board.
The sphere of acquisitiveness and venality that is Rajani’s
moon depends entirely on others for its attainment. It can be
reached only if circumstance out of her dreams can change,
but Lati’s journey to her moon is clearly determined.
(Hood,2005) Perhaps Nadaber Paladi enriched in his world
of fantasy and drowsiness is altogether unaware of his definite
moon and so is comfortable, remaining in his cinema hall
repeatedly dosing in front of the pornographic loop, which
doesn’t in fact bore him even after repeated views, and in him
the filmmaker suggests the possibilities of a subtle
moon(dream) which goes satisfied with his repeated vision of
the same stuff.
Nevertheless, the capriciousness of the world in which
Dasgupta has placed this young girl, Lati, is hardly minimized by the execution of her intention, for the most prominent determinant in this film is chance. Film advances the
idea that maybe life does progress by chance as though it is
determined by the throw of a dice. The importance of chance
as a determinant in the life is determined in a number of
ways, across all the characters in the movie.
Mystic memories around an American dream
Kalpurush’ is all about the life of Sumanto, a selfless and
Dreams as Narrative Pullers: A look into Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s
National award winning films ‘Mondo Meyer Upakhyan’ and ‘Kalpurush
generous government servant, who eventually wins over the
grim circumstances of his life. Belittled professionally and
betrayed in his marriage and treated as a figure of ridicule by
almost all he meets in life, Sumanto but make adjustments to
life suprisingly different from the regular ones.(Mehta,2008)
The movie opens in a tram at night with Sumanto and Ashwini
seated on different chairs. And when the tram comes to a
stop, Sumanto gets down followed by Ashwini down the deserted lanes of this para city. Ashwini begins to narrate the
story where we understands that Sumanto is his son and that
he has yet to tell him a lot. An element of suspense creeps in
as the audience is left in doubt whether Ashwini is real or
apparitional. The narrative, almost immediately, jump-cuts
to a rugged village where Ashwini is seen talking to his wife
Putul, under a leafless tree that has gathered the twilight grey.
Ashwini tells her about his meeting with their son and asks
about how she is keeping these days. Ashwini’s conversation
with Putul gives us a feeling of dejavu: they seem to have met
after a separation of a few days, or a few days, or may be a few
months. The suspense deepens as the narrative leaps back to
Sumanto’s routine life of a plain and honest Govt. employee
married to a school teacher, Supriya -a visibly irritable lady
without any respect for Sumanto, who she believes, epitomizes failure. She converses with her lover over the land phone,
evenwhile Sumanto is in the vicinity. It is, however, not made
clear whether she is aware of Sumanto’s presence or she underestimates him so much that she does not care whether he
is in-the-know or ignorant of her extra-marital liaison.
If honesty defines Sumanto’s basic nature, a loveless world
around forces him into worshipping human bonds. He appears naïve and open up to his father Ashwini about how his
eyes were up tears as he sees someone wiping the tears off the
cheeks of someone else. Very submissive and docile, he almost makes a fool of himself as he admiringly gazes at a couple
making love in the public park, and even surprises the televi-
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Sudheer S. Salam
sion news reader whom he mets on street by asking him immature questions about the business of news reporting. Even
when Supriya almost blandly tells him that he is not the father of his children, he hardly reacts and never let this information dwindle his love for the two kids. We are often made
to think that Sumanto has already known about this information, which has no effect on his equation with them.
Sumanto appear irritable and upright while he upset the
hierarchy by not penning a favorable inspection report to support one of the business men. Making his unconventionality,
a mode of rebellion, he with a greedy and cruel world around
is shown with a penchant for connecting with love. This aspect of his character recalls the network of electric cables with
which the film open, this network metaphorically signifies
the importance of human bonding. The sequential convergence of two separate historically and personally relevant time
periods of Sumanto and Ashwini also helps Dasgupta to reveal Sumanto’s and Ashwini’s behavioral pattern of anonymous affairs, emotional isolation, and inner chaos, paralleling
their self-destructive behavior with the national crisis of identity, and cultural disconnection.
There are two dreams that act as the primary determinants of the narrative routes of ‘Kalpurush’. The first is
Supriya’s obsession with “America’ –a land to which her longing is so much intense that she hardly recognizes the routine
bests available around her, including Sumanto or her kids.
From the opening reels Supriya is obsessed with her impending two-month sojourn in the United States at her brother’s.
And towards the end, Supriya is shown to have reached her
dream winning a prize to be in her dreamland.
The second dream is a fallen one, about Kusumpur, the
imaginative land which Ashwini looks for all his life. Nobody knows the geographical location of this land, suggested
as an impossible knowledge. Placing diametrically opposite
to Supriya’s realization of her America, the Kusumpur(s) of
Dreams as Narrative Pullers: A look into Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s
National award winning films ‘Mondo Meyer Upakhyan’ and ‘Kalpurush
the mind, appear as a Utopian destination which means different things to different people. As in Das Gupta’s earlier
movie Uttara, where a group of illiterate, underfed, haggard
old men embarks on a journey by foot to America, the land
where nobody starves, here Kusumpur is Ashwini’s
America, the land of overabundance, prosperity and nourishment. This highly politicized representation of America as
the dreamland, the land of wish-fulfilment, projected so in
every popular discourse of an average Indian has etched upon
the collective unconscious of the masses, especially of the Third
World. Therefore, Supriya, a mundane school teacher almost
goes berserk as the invitation of his brother to spend a couple
of months in the States. She urges Sumanto to buy her every
possible Bengali book available on America. The titles available, to Sumanto’s astonishment, are countless, and underscore the authors’ sycophantic reverence for the country.
While Supriya revels in the golden opportunity of flying
to this dreamland, which also becomes her Kusumpur, the
regional television channel airs news about America’s imperialistic designs almost unemotionally. Only once, does the
newsreader lose control and intersperse the news with unspeakable abuses, giving expression to his anger directed to
“butcherng” America. However, all this happens is Sumanto’s
imagination/dream, the newsreader’s outrage actually a projection of his feeling.
The ‘Other’ as hero
Simple, concrete and pictorial images of the poet turned
filmmaker in DasGupta, is affected with an economy of language. The presentation of image and idea bears meticulous
attention to an appropriate relationship with form; and the
piece has a clear integrity which accommodates the emotions
as much as the intellect. (Hood, 2005) His Naxalite sympathizing and hope for a class –less equi focal world has created
a notion of ‘distance’ in his films, with its ramifications of
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Sudheer S. Salam
detachment, alienation and remoteness governed by a poetic
perspective. This might be the reason for the formulation of a
distanced ‘Other’ that is often the ultimate destination and
hoped for in all his movies.
Moving close to the setup of neo-sociopolitical and moral
binaries America/ the rest of the world, city/country, cinema/other forms of popular art, dishonesty/honesty, so on and
so forth, DasGupta’s films offer a lot of codes that stands apart
for its placement of opposites. (Hood,2005) In ‘Mondo Meyer
Upakhyan’, Calcutta with its immaculate freedom, wisdom
and knowledge is set as a binary to the isolated brothel housing Lati and Rajani, with hardly any freedom or space for
learning. And ultimately, the schoolmaster Nagen is destined
to join the ‘other’ with the ever aspiring strong willed Lati,
who seems like wrongly placed in the opposite part of the
esteemed elements. Even as Neil Armstrong finally clinches
his long chased moon, his one of the binary here is the jeep
and its driver Ganesh who transverse through isolated unending landscapes, seeking to look for what is not to be found
(this case, a hospital).The three young prostitutes, who long
for an escape from their life of deceit and humiliation in the
brothel is looking for an other possibility of a life without
men.
Honest and idealistic, with his root firm on a craggy village with its share of mythological ballads and myths, the
protagonist of Kalpurush seldom shows any inclination to
America, which his wife finds as the best of the world’s that
she can accomplish. That’s enough reason to look upon him
as the ‘Other’ . Another similar reference is of an ideal
‘Kusumpur’ a place long ago and far away, which beckons us
when life’s complexities beckons us to return to nature’s solidities, the perfect other space than the couple’s, contrasting
life . But by Ashwini’s mention about this place that cannot
be travelled, DasGupta also cites that life is not that full and
perfect, even in the most idealistic ‘Kusumpur ‘or in ‘America’.
Dreams as Narrative Pullers: A look into Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s
National award winning films ‘Mondo Meyer Upakhyan’ and ‘Kalpurush
Dasgupta also travels an ‘Other’ in a typical Bengali folk art
‘Jatra’ with its share of heavy emotions, glittering costumes,
and loud make-up, which forms the central to the narrative
of ‘Kalpurush , even while dealing through the most dazzling
and powerful of the modern media – cinema.
In both these movies the maverick filmmaker seems to have
shown his affinity to deficient and entirely unattainable conundrums of our romantic social structures, that is the family. At the risk of generalization, it may be said that DasGupta’
attempts to establish counter-hegemony of the ‘Other’ of complete, well served families with the placement of incomplete
fundamental social group in its settings through his films. In
fact, DasGupta seems to be looking on for very prosaic
conceptualization of ‘concept of lack’. This ‘lack’ is their in
Mondo Meyer Upakhyan, as Lati is presented with a mother,
but not a father. And Shibu, the child of washerman is presented with a father, but not a mother. Natabar Paladhi makes
mention of his wife and family, but is never shown one. There
is no reference to the family life of Ganesh or Nakul or Nagen.
The old couple is rejected by their larger family and is left
now in the mindset of venturing children. Similar is the fate
of the inmates of the brothel, whose ‘lack’ is infuriated with
every one night stands. In ‘Kaalpurush’, Sumanto is not dissatisfied or regretful with his fate of being alone with adopted
children, after his wife walks out of his life. Supriya is more
than happy to lead a life with avarice and materialism, even
lonely, but in America. Putul and Ashwini’s women friend
working with Jatra is also shown isolated and trauma- filled
for their existance. Dr.Ashwini continues with his work after
being left out of his wife and is attempted to be killed by his
son, but in his later spiritual talks ,express his nostalgia for a
life that he put an end to without knowing its value. And this
remains the only point where Dasgupta constructs the values
of form of their relationship more than the relationship itself. However, such an observation is also subject to debate.
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Sudheer S. Salam
In the ultimate analysis, what one sees in a Dasgupta movies
are welcome minimalism and ordinary individuals with mostly
unattainable dreams, shorn of weird dramatization, so regular in Indian cinema.
References
Adler, A.(1936) On the interpretation of dreams. Int. J. Indiv. Psychol., 2,
3-16.
Branigan, Edward (1992): Narrative Comprehension and the Fiction Film.
London: Routledge
Ezequiel Morsella (2010), On the Film Inception: Observations about
Dreams and in Dreams , Published on July 29, 2010
Freud,S.(1900) The Interpretation of Dreams, Hartman, E. (2006). Why
do we dream? Scientific American.
Hobson, J. A. (1999). Consciousness. New York: Scientific American Library.
Hood, John.W, (2005) The Films of Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Delhi: Orient
Longman.
Mehta,Anita(2008), On Times that pass and men who live in them,
Osian Cinemaya, Vol.1,No 3.
Monaco, James(2007) How to read a film: the world of movies, media and
multimedia, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the
Concept of alienation in TV Chandran’s
Films “Danny” and “Padam Onnu Oru
Vilapam’’ - A Semiotic Enquiry
Gopakumar A.V.
Head, Department of Mass Communication & Journalism,
Kristu Jayanti College, Bangalore, India
Renjini T.
Assistant Professor,
Department of Psychology, Govt. College for Women,
Thiruvananthapuram, India
Abstract
The paper focuses on the imagery of the “Concept of Social
Alienation “in internationally acclaimed Indian director, TV
Chandran’s Films “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam” (Malayalam,
2003) and Danny ( Malayalam,2001). Semiological review of
the films reveals that the director has adroitly used various form of
Intertextuality to deepen the concept of alienation like constitutive
Intertextuality, metatextuality, paratextuality, along with metonyms
and historical allegories, to visualize the concept of political and
social alienation of the protagonists, thereby highlighting the plight
of marginalized societies in India.
In this study, the researchers explore post structuralism approaches
to decode the texts, and its significance of generating meaning in
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Gopakumar A.V.
Renjini T.
the textual system. This complex system with multitude of signs,
text is seen not as a closed system of meanings, but a weaving of
codes. Analyses also reveal that the director has attempted to record
the parallel history of the historically (mainstream History) insignificant population in the country, and the usage of theatre technique “Distancing Effect” to bring effectiveness to the imagery of
the “Concept of Alienation”.
Introduction
The concept of alienation is deeply embedded in all the
great religions and social and political theories of the civilized
epoch, namely, the idea that some time in the past people
lived in harmony, then there was some kind of rupture which
left people feeling like foreigners in the world, and in future
this alienation would be overcome and humanity would again
live in harmony with itself and Nature.
The word “alienation” suggests separation and distance; it
contains within the term “alien”, a stranger in a society who
has no connections with others, no ties, no ‘liens” of any sort.
This notion is of central importance in understanding Marxism, which derives alienation from the capitalist economic
system. Capitalism may be able to produce goods and materialistic abundance for large numbers of people (though, ultimately, at the expense of others), but it necessarily generates
alienation and all classes suffer from this, whether they recognize the fact or not.
In sociology and critical social theory, alienation refers to
an individual’s estrangement from traditional community and
others in general. It is considered by many that the atomism
of modern society means that individuals have shallower relations with other people than they would normally. It is also
sometimes referred to as commodification, emphasizing the
compatibility of capitalism with alienation. Many sociologists
of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were concerned about the alienating effects of modernization.
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the Concept of alienation in TV Chandran’s Films
“Danny” and “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam’’ - A Semiotic Enquiry
German sociologists George Simme and Ferdinand Tönnies
have written rather critical works on individualization and
urbanization. Simmel’s “Philosophie des Geldes” (“Philosophy of Money”) describes how relationships become more and
more mediated through money. Tönnies’ “Gemeinschaft und
Gesellschaft” (“Community and Society”) is about the loss of
primary relationships in favour of secondary relationships. The
American Sociologist C. Wright Mills conducted a major study
of alienation in modern society with “White Collar”, 1951,
describing how modern consumption-capitalism has shaped
a society where one has to sell one’s personality in addition to
work
In a broader philosophical context, especially in existentialism and phenomenology, alienation describes the inadequacy of human being or mind in relation to the world. The
human mind, as the subject of perception, relates to the world
as an object of its perception, and so is distanced from the
world rather than living within it. This line of thought can be
found, among others, in Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger,
Jean-Paul Sartre,André Gorz ,Albert Camus and Theodor
Adorno.
Researchers focus on the works of TV chandran’s depiction of social and political alienation of the protagonists in
the selected movies, and study how the director use the various form of Intertextuality to deepen the concept of alienation, along with other semiological techniques used in the
movies. The theory of Intertextuality introduced by Julia
Kristeva assumes that meaning and intelligibility in discourse
and Texts are based on a network of prior and concurrent discourse and texts. Every text, encompassing image, film, Web
content, musical composition is a mosaic of references to other
texts, genres, and discourses. Every text or set of signs presupposes a network of relationships to other signs like strings of
quotations that have lost their exact references. The principle
of Intertextuality is a ground or precondition for meaning
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beyond “texts” in the strict sense of things written, and includes units of meaning in any media. Essentially,
Intertextuality describes the foundational activity behind interpreting cultural meaning in any significant unit of a cultural object like a book, a film, a TV show, a Web genre):
whatever meaning we discover or posit can only occur through
a network of prior “texts” that provide the context of possible
meanings and our recognition of meaning at all.
In this study, the researchers include post structuralism
approaches to decode the texts, and its significance of generating meaning in the textual system. Post structuralism is the
critical theory and philosophical movement that denies the
validity of the structuralism movement and questions universal claims of objective knowledge. In post structuralism, culture is considered inseparable from meaning. In post structuralism; the text is seen not as a closed system of meanings,
but a weaving of codes. A major determinant of meanings is
Intertextuality. The author’s authority is dismissed, and the
reader is an active producer of meanings.
T V Chandran and his films ‘ Danny’ and ‘Padam Onnu Oru
Vilapam’
T V Chandran is an internationally acclaimed Indian Film
Director. He is a director with Marxist inclinations, and most
of his films have strong undercurrent of history, politics and
feminism. His film Alicinte Anveshanangal (Search of Alice)
was the official Indian entry at Locarno. Since then he has
won several major national and state awards for most of his
works, and his films have been screened at major international
festivals.
T.V. Chandran’s Film Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam ( Lesson
one: a long Wail) focuses on the social alienation of the protagonist Shahina, who represents a marginalized Muslim community encompassing illiterates and religious minorities in
India. The film bagged the gold medal for the best film in the
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the Concept of alienation in TV Chandran’s Films
“Danny” and “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam’’ - A Semiotic Enquiry
Dhaka International Film Festival. Whereas, his Film “Danny”
(2001) focuses on the social and political alienation of the
protagonist Danny Thompson, who represents a marginalized
community encompassing illiterates and religious minorities
in India. The director got the inspiration for this film from
“The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas” by the Brazilian
Novelist Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis.
Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Prayer’ as Intertextuality to depict
denied freedom in ‘ Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam’
The semiotic notion of Intertextuality introduced by Julia
Kristeva is associated primarily with poststructuralist theorists. Kristeva referred to texts in terms of two axes: a horizontal axis connecting the author and reader of a text, and a vertical axis, which connects the text to other texts. Uniting these
two axes are shared codes: every text and every reading depends on prior codes. According to her ‘every text is from the
outset under the jurisdiction of other discourses which impose a universe on it’. In the film, director uses the poem
“prayer “to link the real meaning of freedom. The poem written by Tagore is a plea, not for the political independence
that was being sought early this century in India when it was
written, but for freedom from parochialness and dogma prevailing in our society. The protagonist’s poetical recitation is
repeated in the cinema indicating three turning points in the
development of the story as well as in the character of Shahina.
This poetical interlude reminds the viewer about the real
meaning of freedom in societal context, contradicting with
what is prevailing.
Furthermore, movie visualizes the stark contradiction of
school lessons with protagonist’s real life, as she reads lesson’s
like “Man is a Social Animal, “a child learns the first lessons of
democracy at home, you agree or not”, hymns from the poem”
daffodils” and also the teacher discusses renowned Malayalam
writer Mohammed Basheer’s short story “Bhoomiyude
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Avakashikal” (Owners of the Earth) in the class, which speaks
about the equal rights of animals and men over the earth in a
situation where even basic human rights are deprived.
T.V. Chandran allows the work of Rabindranath Tagore
and others like Basheer, through borrowings, to make an impress upon his film. Yet he re-arranges these borrowings to
simultaneously put his own stamp on them and by extension
of their sources. In this way, Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam becomes the centre of a complex web of interrelationships. Ultimately, the most important function of the film’s allusions is
to provide cues by which its solipsistic narrative becomes “readable”. At the same time, ironically, they work as a commentary on the depth of ‘concept of social alienation’. The poetic
interlude connotes at a suggestive level that how long it will
take this community to be liberated from poverty and injustice.
“School” as a metonym that stands for the educated and literate world
In post structuralism, the text is seen not as a closed system of meanings, but a weaving of codes. In the movie, ‘Padam
Onnu Oru Vilapam’, the school acquires dimensions of a character as Shahina life revolves around it. The director uses School
and the associated elements like books, lessons and teachers
as metonyms which stand for the educated and literate word.
Metonymy is, broadly defined, a trope in which one entity is
used to stand for another associated entity. It involves the
substitution of one term for another, and, the substitution is
based on contiguity. For the protagonist, school is something
personified, and seeks solace in all sorts of discomforts whether
it is in the form of new books or her discussion with classmates about various subjects or school as such. For example,
when the family members fix her marriage without her concern, she escapes into the school for protection. When she is
hospitalized, her only concern is to continue the interrupted
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the Concept of alienation in TV Chandran’s Films
“Danny” and “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam’’ - A Semiotic Enquiry
school examination. Furthermore, she is not stressed at the
time of divorce, instead is thrilled because she considers it as
an option to continue her studies. Ironically the school becomes the arena for bride fixing, and remains a mute witness
to the tragic drama enacted around it. Through these
metonyms, the director poignantly visualizes the harsh reality where the intelligentsias are mute spectators to these social evils. In the beginning of the film, we can see Kasim (school
teacher) tries to oppose the views of the religious orthodoxy
and male chauvinism prevailing in the community. He is shown
helpless towards the end of the movie, exposing the over dominance of the religious orthodoxy over the educated and literate world.
Repetitive and networked texts to bring forth the perpetual
nature of Social Alienation
The theory of Intertextuality introduced by Julia Kristeva
assumes that meaning and intelligibility in discourse and texts
are based on a network of prior and concurrent texts. Every
text is a mosaic of references to other texts, genres, and discourses. In Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam, the movie starts with
a lone purdha-clad woman (Razia, Shahina’s Friend) clutching her baby alighting a bus from Mysore and move towards
her natal home, with the threat of divorce at her back. At
close of the story, we see Shahina alight from a bus and move
towards her native shore, carrying an unborn child in her
womb with the suggestion that this is an ongoing story in
this part of the world.
The director also visualizes the world of poor Muslim
women in the rural ambience by depicting the plight of unending purdha-clad women clutching wailing babies many a
times in the movie, and in the final sequence, the director
adroitly added Shahina and her baby to the unending human
chain of women misery. Their world, from grandmothers to
granddaughters, wives of all generation under one roof sym-
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bolizes the perpetual nature of the problem.
The usage of Historical allegory to extend the meaning of
alienation
The most interesting instances of allegory are those in which
the surface of the text either gives unsatisfactory answers to
readers’ interrogations or remains overly enigmatic, thus including a sense of recognition of the opacity of language and
mandating the search for the concealed meaning. Apart from
mythical narratives, we are all familiar with fragmentary utterances, apparently interrupted messages, suggestive juxtapositions of images that would seem enigmatic or “completely
illogical” If our reading was restricted to what is literally there
on the surface. The prestige of allegorical exegesis derives from
its claim of solving a textual problem, of a illuminating the
crucial aspects of the text that are at the root of enigmas.1
In a classroom scene, the teacher asks stressed and mentally imbalanced Shahina, the meaning of the word “Placidly”. The teacher repeats the word many a times, but she is
unable to answer the question. This is a fragmentary utterance and has no connection with the main narration. But as a
historical allegory, the word “Placidly” which has a dictionary
meaning “calmness” 2 is used by the director to expose the
amount of ignorance and suppression in a satirical way by
darting the question to a representative of the oppressed community who is an embodiment of calmness and ignorance.
‘Metatextuality’ or ‘Relay’ to offer the interpreter the scope
for deconstructing the text connected with the socio- political alienation of the protagonist in ‘Danny”
Linguist Norman Fairclough defines ‘constitutive
Intertextuality, which signifies the interrelationship of discursive features in a text, such as structure, form, or genre. In
the movie ‘ Danny”, the director deploys the structure of “The
Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas” by the Brazilian Novel-
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the Concept of alienation in TV Chandran’s Films
“Danny” and “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam’’ - A Semiotic Enquiry
ist Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis(Subtitled as the
Epitaph of a Small Winner, Published in 1881 ), the novel
has a unique style of short, erratic chapters shifting in tone
and style. Instead of the clear and logical construction of a
normal nineteenth-century realist novel, the novel makes use
of surreal devices of metaphor and playful narrative construction. The novel is narrated by the dead protagonist Brás Cubas,
who tells his own life story from beyond the grave, noting his
mistakes and failed romances. The fact of being already deceased allows Brás Cubas to sharply criticize the Brazilian society and reflect on his own disillusionment, with no sign of
remorse or fear of retaliation. Through the structure of the
novel, director uses discursive features to cover the life of the
protagonist Danny Thompson from one period to another in
an unmethodical way. Furthermore, the director brings in a
type of Intertextuality called metatextuality, which is explicit
or implicit critical commentary of one text on another text to
support the story of the protagonist.
The film ‘Danny’ is a biography of an unknown person
Danny Thompson, who is also a mute witness to the ongoing
political and social transformation in India, especially Kerala
State from 1940’s; Danny also represents thousands of people
who are not able to participate in the social movements chiefly
because of their familial and social problems. The film captures the many moments of desolation and dejection of the
protagonist, Daniel Thomson or Danny from a youth to a
septuagenarian. There are major incidents happening in
Danny’s life too, when the world is really shook by turning
incidents. But those happen in Danny’s life go unnoticed by
anyone, even Danny himself. The director, T.V. Chandran effectively uses a voice over (commentary) of historical parallelism to highlight the insignificant history of the marginalized
whose history is not recorded in any so called “history”.
In the film “Danny”, parallels go like this. Danny is born
on the day when Quit India movement started. Danny’s fa-
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ther dies on the Independence Day. Danny’s first wife leaves
him when the first Communist government is dissolved. Danny
gets married with Clara, when emergency is declared. In 1964
as the Communist party sees a split and President’s rule is
imposed in the State, Danny starts taking his English classes
and moving with the whims of Margaret as the latter tightens
her grip over him. When Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated in the
year 1984, there is a molestation attempt on Margaret by a
fellow professor. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union
and demolition of Babri Masjid comes the tyranny of Anna
(Danny’s Daughter in Law) on Danny. Danny is taken by
force into a sanatorium for senile people amidst the death of
the first communist chief minister of Kerala, and crowning of
the BJP Government in Delhi.
The movie draws constant parallels between social history
and Danny’s life, and T.V. Chandran tries to visualize the
political and social alienation of the marginalized in the Indian society by interpreting history from their point of view.
Roland Barthes used the term relay to describe text/image
relationships which were ‘complementary’. This sort of
Intertextuality should lead one to examine the functions of
those images and spoken text used in close association within
a text not only in terms of their respective codes, but in terms
of their overall rhetorical orchestration. These codes involved
in such textual systems clearly cannot be considered in isolation, where as their interplay reveals incoherence, ambiguities, contradictions and omissions which may offer the interpreter scope for deconstructing the text.
Paratextuality to convey Distancing Effect and the “Concept
of Alienation “in Danny
T.V. Chandran makes use of the Distance effect or alienation technique introduced by Brecht as paratextuality in
drama to take emotion out of the production and persuade
the audience to distance themselves from the make believe.
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the Concept of alienation in TV Chandran’s Films
“Danny” and “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam’’ - A Semiotic Enquiry
Paratextuality is the relation between a text and its ‘paratext’ that which surrounds the main body of the text - such as
titles, headings, prefaces, epigraphs, dedications, acknowledgements, footnotes, illustrations, dust jackets, etc.;
“The distancing effect is achieved by the way the “artist
never acts as if there were a fourth wall besides the three surrounding him [...] The audience can no longer have the illusion of being the unseen spectator at an event which is really
taking place.” 3 The use of direct audience-address is one way
of disrupting stage illusion and generating the distancing effect. In performance the performer “observes himself ”; his or
her object “to appear strange and even surprising to the audience. He achieves this by looking strangely at himself and his
work.”7
In the film “Danny, the director invites his film audience
to identify with the issues faced by the characters and not the
characters themselves. Mammootty, the actor enacting Danny
Thompson, in the beginning appears to introduce him as
Mammootty himself and later on in the sequence depicting
Danny’s first love affair, (two scenes in a single shot) we see
the same alienation. This encourages the actor to disassociate
himself from their roles; all of this would make the political
truth easier to comprehend. Apart from this, the film has got
a non linear narrative style with voice over commentaries explaining how the life of Danny Thompson is related with
mainstream history, to disrupt the narrative flow in the cinema.
This alienation technique brought in through Paratextuality
prevents the audience from losing itself passively and completely in the character created by the actor, and which consequently leads the audience to be a consciously critical
observer.”4The alienation effect serves a didactic function insofar as it teaches the viewer not to take the style and content
for granted, since the medium itself is highly constructed and
contingent upon many cultural and economic conditions.
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Conclusion
Semiological review of the film “ Danny “ and “Padam
Onnu Oru Vilapam” directed by T.V. Chandran reveals that
the director adeptly used Intertextuality to visualize the concept of political and social alienation of the protagonists,
thereby highlighting the plight of marginalized societies in
India. In the movie “ Danny”, TV Chandran brings in Constitutive Intertextuality, Paratextuality and metatextuality to
visualize the subaltern history of a marginalized individual in
the form of historical parallelism to highlight the insignificant history of the marginalized whose history is not recorded
in any so called “history”.
Muslim women are among the poorest, educationally disenfranchised, economically vulnerable, politically marginalized
group in the country. Their status in India is attributable to
certain intrinsic, immutable “Islamic” features and because of
their social status from Muslim laws. T.V. Chandran through
this cinematic intervention highlights the alienation faced by
these women in a poignant manner.Semiological review of the
film “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam” directed by T.V. Chandran
tries to deepen the meaning of the visuals by using approaches
like intertextuality, repetitive and networked texts, and historical allegories. This dismal status of Muslim women is a
crucial issue needing urgent action. According to latest studies on Muslim minority women, an improvement in literacy
rates would directly influence their socio-economic and political status as citizens of India, as the literacy rate among
Muslim women (50.1 per cent) is lower than the rate among
other women in India, including Hindus (53.2 per cent) and
Christians (76.2 per cent)..5 Unfortunately in India, they are
not even given a chance to complete schooling, and so called
educated and social academicians are mute spectator to this
social evil. T.V. Chandran visualize this cruel reality by using
“School”, and it associated elements as a metonym, which
stands for the educated and literate who are unsuccessful in
Intertextuality and the Imagery of the Concept of alienation in TV Chandran’s Films
“Danny” and “Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam’’ - A Semiotic Enquiry
bringing a social revelation in the community.
TV Chandran’s intuitive sense of Intertextuality act as a
ground or condition for meaning in all forms of text (verbal,
visual, sound, and all combinations), considering dependency
or presupposition in meaning. The text connected with series
of signs, presupposes a set of prior instances of the signs to
help the reader to interpret the meaning. Furthermore, function as a learned archive or encyclopedia of references, genres,
background knowledge, and symbolic meaning of socio- political alienation in what we are viewing, reading, and interpreting. The generative meaning-making process that the term
“Intertextuality” attempts to describe is as foundational to
culture as the grammar of a language and the many uses of
connected statements in all discourses.
Notes
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Ismail Xavier;Historical Allegory, A Companion to
Film Theory
The Concise Oxford Dictionary
Brecht, Bertolt “Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting”, page 91. Hill and Wang, 1964
Brecht, Bertolt “Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting”, page 92. Hill and Wang, 1964.
Report of the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life (a non-partisan US-based research group)
References
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CA: Sage
Asa Berger, Arthur. (1933).Media and Communication Research Methods: An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
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Brecht, Bertolt (1964). Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting, Hill and
Wang
Fairclough, Norman 1992): Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge:
Polity Press.
Hayward, Susan (2000). Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts. London:
Routledge
Mills, C. Wright (1951). White Collar: The American Middle Classes,
New York: Oxford University Press
Pearsall,Judy (1999): The Concise Oxford Dictionary, New York, Oxford
University Press,
Strauss, A., & Corbin (1990): Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded
Theory Procedures and Techniques. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Strauss, A., & Corbin. (1990). Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded
Theory Procedures and Techniques. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Todorov, Tzvetan. (1973): The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a
Literary Genre. Trans. Richard Howard. Cleveland, OH: The Press of
Case Western Reserve University,
Wimmer, R.D, & Dominick, J.R.(1983). Mass media Research: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Wimmer, R.D, & Dominick, J.R (1983): Mass media Research: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth..
Worton, Michael, & Still, Judith (1991) : Intertextuality: Theory & Practices, Manchester University Press
Communication and Journalism Research: Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Calicut, Kerala, India
A Situational Analysis of
Internet Consumption among
College Students in Silchar
Anindya Deb
Research Scholar. Assam University, Silchar., India
Dr. Silajit Guha
Reader, Dept. of Mass Communication. Assam University, Silchar, India
Abstract
The face of higher education sector has changed beyond recognition after the digital revolution. The soft-copy technology has
been able to alter the pattern of many practices. The early digital
adopters are in all probabilities to enjoy an edge over the digital
laggards. In a developing society, the access to Internet is a contentious issue since it depends on economic capability. The study was
undertaken to find out how the students in a remote corner of a
developing country are posited with relation to information revolution sweeping across the country. The survey results were put to
rigorous statistical tests to find out whether there is any palpable
difference among the students in terms of access to the information
resources. The study reveals that parental income affects heavily the
possibilities of possessing information hardware and thereby a significant section of the students are likely to remain perpetually on
the wrong side of information superhighway due to inequitable
income distribution. Unless the systemic corrections are in place,
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Dr. Silajit Guha
the entire society marching into the dawn of information revolution is likely to remain a distant dream.
Introduction
The arrival of Internet on the education sector has been
able to jolt the system out of the languor it was blessed with,
especially in the higher education sector in India. The advent
of the new medium and inroads it has already made in the
psyche of an average Indian student’s life makes it abundantly
clear that higher education is now virtually impossible to be
transacted in the absence of Internet mediation even in the
remotest parts of the country. While the Internet has been
able to alter the pattern of consuming media texts by opting
for digital platform through convergence, it has been able to
change the practice accessing superior knowledge sources for
the students of higher education sector. Gone are the days of
bookworm students, the digital text has virtually served a death
blow to hard copy education, both in terms of books as well
as academic journals. To quote Baudrillard (1988), it’s “now a
pure screen, a switching centres for all networks of influences.”
While the hard copies of books and journals still vie for the
attention of the students, it is unlikely that they would be
allowed to languish in bookshelves in future replacing the all
encapsulated habits of the students to suck their lifeblood
from the digital platforms. With the Internet becoming an all
pervasive medium in addition to its already firmly entrenched
hold on communication practices worldwide, the issues like
digital divide, digital adopters and digital laggards are coming to the fore.
India, like other developing nations faces the spectre of a
digital divide due to its different level of inadequacies. Illiteracy, gender disempowerment, financial incapability and
inadequate distribution of material resources in different parts
of the country are some of the factors responsible for keeping
India in the throes of digital disempowerment. While some
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption
among College Students in Silchar
parts of nation have been able to galvanize their material and
non-material pursuits, a huge tract of the nation remains
deeply embedded in the non-digital practice of their earthly
chores. While the transaction of academics has become a completely digitally mediated practice for the students in some
parts of the nation and thereby becoming digital natives, most
of the students in the country are still very much digital immigrants and busy in overcoming the bottlenecks thrown in
by the new digital culture. Education process in India has
become a battleground for these two sets of students, students who happen to be early digital adopters and the students who are better understood as digital laggards.
Another important issue looming large in the horizon is
the question of digital divide. The fact remains that in most
cases, the students, even with poor parental income have now
taken to Internet use, but the moot question is how far the
issue is of quality use. Accessing Wikipedia and accessing a
quality journal are two different issues and impact the quality
of a student in two different ways. But qualitative issues apart,
in the Indian setting, it is doubly important to understand
whether Internet has been able to reach the students in the
remotest parts of the nations and whether even the lowest
denominators of students, both in terms of parental income
and social capital, are able to access them for bringing a change
in their approach towards education as well as other perspectives.
Internet culture and digital divide
Culture is a pendulum like topography because of the contentious dispute among scholars and other disciplines. Despite its entropic, chaotic and randomized cacophony, the term
‘culture’ is useful, valuable and intertwined with the study of
new media. By default the study of new media integrates the
dominant institutions of the society (Mark Poster, 2001).
Slowly but steadily Internet is spreading its tentacles in higher
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Anindya Deb
Dr. Silajit Guha
education also more specifically among young students of
colleges and universities. Youngsters have become more
techno-savvy in the contemporary new media environment
although the penetration is low due to low parental income
and education. Illiteracy is one of the determining factors for
this great digital divide, i.e., the gap between Internet haves
and Internet have nots. Margaret Morse (1998) lamented that
Internet promotes patriarchy and capitalism and also is concerned with the fact that Internet erodes the ‘sociality’ of ‘a
well functioning society’. There are different perspectives on
access to Internet as it increases human capital by supplementing better access to education and training in comparison to those who do not have access to Internet and are further excluded from social and human capital (Ronald E. Rice
and Caroline Haythornthwaite, 2006). Many studies show
that digital divide exists even in America especially among
minorities like African-American and non-white Hispanics.
They spend less time in accessing Internet whereas white men,
higher income earners, highly educated and more efficient
users spend more time online; 57 per cent of white men use
Internet and 52 per cent white women using net is a clear
example of digital gender divide although the gap is shrinking globally. Also many researches depict that lower education, females, higher age, lower income, and non-U S regions
are slow in accessing Internet (Ibid). Another study by the
Consumer Federation of America has shown that lower income groups are much less connected and have less education
compared to higher income groups. Hence it can be said that
age, income and education are the strongest determinants in
Internet accessibility.
A study conducted in UK tells about the generation effects, i.e., the children are heavy users than their parents and
the gender divide is modest, since boys use the Internet more
than the girls (Piet Bakker and Charo Sadaba, 2008). Another study from Portugal too supports a strong association
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption
among College Students in Silchar
between age and Internet use, where vast majority are youngsters or men below 34 years. Similar research was being conducted in Spain, and there boys and girls aged between 10
and 18 years prefer Internet more rather than television while
38 per cent prefer Internet and 30 per cent in favour of television (Piet Bakker and Charo Sadaba, 2008). Most importantly, education and wealth are still the strong determinants
or independent variable for the widespread Internet usages.
Higher education and occupational status are highly correlated with higher Internet use according to a European Commission report (Ibid). The Internet penetration is low in rural
and remote areas, as the research from Portugal stated (Centre
for Research and Studies in Sociology, 2006).
Another study conducted in US where the rate of adoption is increasing day by day, 59 per cent of the population
were with access to Internet between December 2000 and
April 2002, from 66 percent in 2003 to 75 per cent in 2004.
Globally the top ten countries like Sweden, Hong Kong, US,
Iceland, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark and South Korea show similar impulses with access to
Internet from 62 to 74 per cent of each country’s population
having access. When examined by region it was found that
only 1.4 per cent of African people and 7 per cent of Asian
were having access to Internet (Ronald E. Rice and Caroline
Haythornthwaite, 2006).
In a developing society like India where Internet diffusion
is low compared to Western societies, approximately more than
sixty five per cent work-forces in the West are information
workers or white-collar employees (Arvind Singhal, 1989) and
these countries have already transformed into information
societies whereas India is still caught in a transition period.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are to:
1.
Understand the association among different income
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Dr. Silajit Guha
2.
3.
4.
5.
categories as to the affordability in accessing the
Internet.
Investigate the association between different income
categories as to the ownership of laptop by students.
Know the relationship between varied income categories with the habit of accessing the different social networking sites to develop relationship with
others.
Investigate the correlation between different income
groups and the reason behind using Internet for academic work.
Ascertain the relationship between different income
groups with the problems being faced by the respondents.
Research Methodology
The method adopted for the research was survey. The researcher considered only those students who had access to
Internet either at home or on mobile phone or in a cyber café
or in the college for ensuring that the respondents had a clear
perception of what was being asked.
The researcher selected one of the colleges in Silchar by
lottery method. A total of 109 respondents were selected. Care
was taken to provide equal representation as far as possible for
all streams. A close ended-questionnaire was constructed for
the purpose of data collection.
The rationale behind conducting the study among college
students was that literate youth represented an important segment of the society seeking access to higher education and
also they were familiar with the use of Internet
Sampling method: The convenient sampling method was
employed for the selection of respondents.For the data analysis, the statistical technique of ANOVA (Analysis of Variance)
was adopted because the data supported the technique and
also the researcher was interested in measuring the variation
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption
among College Students in Silchar
within and between groups (income).
Hypotheses
RH1: There is a significant relationship between different
income groups with the financial affordability of students in
accessing Internet.
RH2: There is a significant association between different
income categories as to the ownership of laptop by students.
RH3: There is a strong relationship between various income categories that have the habit of accessing different social networking sites to develop relationship with others.
RH4: There is a high degree correlation between different
income groups and the reason behind using Internet for academic work.
RH5: There is a significant relationship between different
income groups with the problems being faced by the respondents.
The Profile of Area and Respondents
Silchar is situated in the southern part of the Indian state
of Assam. It is the headquarters of the Cachar district. The
city of Silchar is the second largest city in the state of Assam
and an important commercial centre and consequently witnesses the settlement of a sizable population of traders from
distant parts of India. The main city of the Barak valley is
Silchar.
The respondents were selected from one of the colleges
from Silchar town and all respondents were Under-graduate
College going students of different streams in the age group
of 18 to 24 years.
Variables selected and justification: Here the researcher
considered income as the predictor variable or determining
variable because parental income played a very important role
in access to Internet and other techno-gadgets.
Keeping the income levels of the parents of college stu-
131
132
Anindya Deb
Dr. Silajit Guha
dents selected, the researcher has made the following income
categories under the independent variable of income, which
can be an important factor in determining access to the cyber
world:
1.
Upto Rs 10000 (Lower income)
2.
Rs. 10,001- Rs.20,000 (Upper lower income)
3.
Rs. 20,001- Rs.30,000 (Middle income)
4.
Rs. 30,001 and above (Higher income)
The income categories were convenient to reflect the reality on ground.
Data Analysis
Table 1: Association between income and affordability in accessing Internet.
Income Group
Expensive
Cheap
Can be managed
Total
a) Lower
5
2
12
19
b) Upper lower
2
4
23
29
c) Middle
2
6
15
23
d) Higher
8
5
25
38
Total
17
17
75
109
Further ANOVA has been applied to test the associational
significance.
The within-groups sum of squares
(SSw) =”d12+”d22+”d32+ …. +”dn2
Therefore, SSw=640
And similarly between groups sum of squares
(SS b)=507
The total sum of squares (SSt) =1147
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption
among College Students in Silchar
dfb=3, dfw=8 ;
MS b=169, MSw=80
Therefore, F ratio=MSb/MSw=2.11
Hence, for the table value of F for d.f 3 and 8 respectively
at .05 level of significance is 4.07.
Analysis of Variance Test Result:
Sources of
variation
df
SS
MS
Table value of
F at 0.5 level
Between
Groups
3
507
169
4.07
Within
Groups
8
640
80
Significant
or not
Not
Therefore, the table value is greater than calculated value.
Hence the null hypothesis was supported and the logical research hypothesis was rejected thereby stating that different
income categories do not vary with the affordability in accessing Internet.
Table 2: Association between income with the ownership
of laptop by students.
Income
Yes
No
Total
Lower
2
20
22
Upper lower
10
14
24
Middle
5
18
23
Higher
15
25
40
Total
32
77
109
133
134
Anindya Deb
Dr. Silajit Guha
After the application of ANOVA, the outcome is
SSw=345, SSb=13,474. SSt=13,819
Therefore, dfb=1, dfw=6 ; MSb=13474, MSw=57
Hence F=MSb/MSw=235. Therefore, the calculated value
is 236 and table values of F with 1 and 6 df respectively at .01
level of significance is 13.75.
Analysis of Variance Test Result
Source of
variation
df
SS
MS
Table value
of F at .05 level
of significance
Significant
or not
Between
Groups
1
13,474
13,474
5.99
Significant
Within
Groups
6
345
57
Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected and the research hypothesis was supported and thereby stating that the
ownership of laptop by students varies according to the income levels.
Table 3: Income levels and access to social network sites.
Income
groups
Twitter
Facebook
Orkut
Total
Lower income
0
26
0
26
Upper lower
4
21
4
29
Middle income
0
22
1
23
Higher income
1
25
5
31
Total
5
94
10
109
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption
among College Students in Silchar
Therefore, SSw=1282, SSb=294 and SSt=1576
MSb=98, MSw=160 and calculated value of F is 0.612 for
the corresponding table value of F with 3 and 8 degrees of
freedom at .05 level of significance is 4.07.
Analysis of Variance Test Result
Source of
variation
df
SS
MS
Table value
of F at .05 level
of significance
Between
groups
3
294
98
4.07
Within
groups
8
1282
160
Significant
or not
Not
As the table value is much greater than the calculated value,
the research hypothesis was rejected. It can be concluded that
there is no association among different income categories with
the habit of accessing the social networking sites for developing relationship with others.
Table 4: Association between income and purpose of Internet
use.
Income It helps in I get latest
groups gaining new information
knowledge
Helps me
make
my notes
Can gain Total
Knowledge
from various
sources
Lower
9
6
2
9
26
Upper
Lower
7
10
2
10
29
135
136
Anindya Deb
Dr. Silajit Guha
Middle
11
5
2
5
23
Higher
10
10
2
9
31
Total
37
31
8
33
109
Hence by applying ANOVA the following calculations can
be interpreted as:
SSw (Sum of squares within groups) =162;
SSb (sum of squares within groups) =426;
MSb=142,
MSw=13; and the calculated value of F is 10.5 and the
corresponding table value of F with 3 and 12 df respectively
is 3.49.
ANOVA test Result:
Source of
variation
df
SS
MS
Table value
of F at .05
level
Between
Groups
3
426
142
3.49
Within
Groups
12
162
13
Significant
or not
Significant
Clearly, the calculated value is greater than table value and
therefore, null hypothesis is rejected and the research hypothesis is accepted and can conclude that there is a strong correlation among various income groups as to the purpose of the
use of Internet.
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption
among College Students in Silchar
Table 5: Income and socio-psychological effects derived from
non-use of Internet
Income
groups
Lag
behind
Can’t Psychological
Feel
Can’t
Better Total
identify
impact
isolated socialize in the
with the
examination
group
Lower
7
2
2
4
9
2
26
Upper
lower
6
5
3
6
6
3
29
Middle
6
5
0
5
5
2
23
Higher
4
7
1
4
11
4
31
Total
23
19
6
19
31
11
109
Hence with the help of ANOVA, the following interpretation can be done:
SSb=347; SSw=141; SSt=488; MSb=115; MSw=7 and
calculated value of F is 16 and corresponding table value of F
with 3 and 20 df respectively is 3.10.
ANOVA test Result:
Source of
variation
df
SS
MS
Table value
of F at .05
level
Between
Groups
3
347
115
3.10
Within
Groups
20
141
7
-
Significant
or not
Not
-
Therefore, it can be said that null hypothesis was accepted
137
138
Anindya Deb
Dr. Silajit Guha
and logical research hypothesis was rejected and it can be concluded that there is no association among different income
groups as to the problems being faced by the students when
college students do not use Internet.
Conclusion
The interpretation of the survey findings statistically proves
that while there may not be much difference in terms of accessibility of the Internet when it comes to parental income,
quite predictably so because of the mushrooming of the
cybercafés in nooks and corners of the country, the possession
of a laptop significantly varies in terms of the parental income. In a developing society where the winds of information
society have supposedly begun to sweep, it could be an interesting idea to provide the students with some facilities to help
them in accessing Internet from home. Of course, providing
the students with laptop is a shortcut available to bridge the
yawning gap existing between the polarities, but it is important to remember that net tariff is still quite high in India and
the bandwidth is equally poor. The area where the survey was
conducted happens to be a victim of poor connectivity and
high tariff especially when it comes to accessing Internet in a
cybercafé. Taken in entirety, the survey provides a grim picture and in itself speaks of digital divide among the Internet
users on the whole. Students with laptop will be in possession of richer information content while getting it at a cheaper
rate while students without a laptop would be forced to pay
more at cybercafé and would forever remain digital laggard.
The students with laptop would find it easier to become only
digital adopters and would find it easier to be a part of information revolution leaving their less privileged pals behind.
The flipside of the entire debate is that while a good section
of the students are an active participants in the process for
becoming the members of a digital society even while living
in an impoverished place because of a better parental income,
A Situational Analysis of Internet Consumption
among College Students in Silchar
their less fortunate colleagues would be forced to continue
with the frustration of being a early digital adopters further
eroding the possibility of India becoming an information society in the nearest future.
References
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Dewdney Andrew and Ride Peter, (2009). The New Media Handbook,
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King Lucy, Picard G. Robert & Towse Ruth, (2008) ‘the Internet and
Mass Media’, New Delhi. Sage Publication Ltd.
Lievrouw A. Leah, Livingstone Sonia, (2006), ‘the Handbook of New
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Morse Margaret, (1998) ‘Virtualities: Television, Media Art, and Cyber
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Nachmias David, Nachmias Chava, (1976), ‘Research Methods in the
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Wimmer D. Roger and Dominick R. Joseph, (2003) ‘Mass Media Research’. Singapore. Thomas Asia Pvt. Ltd.
139
About the Contributors
·
·
·
·
·
·
·
·
·
·
Abdul Muneer V.
Assistant Professor of Journalism,
E.M.E.A College of Arts and Science, Kondotty, Kerala, India.
[email protected]
Anindya Deb,
Research Scholar. Assam University, Silchar., India,
[email protected]
Dr. Silajit Guha,
Reader, Dept. of Mass Communication,
Assam University, Silchar, Assam, India.
Dr. Subash Kuttan ,
Head, Department of Communication & Journalism,
University of Kerala, India.
[email protected]
Dr.Muhammadali Nelliyullathil,
Reader, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication,
University of Calicut, India.
[email protected]
Gopakumar A.V.
Head, Department of Mass Communication & Journalism, Kristu
Jayanti College, Bangalore, India.
[email protected]
M.V. Thomas,
Research Scholar, Dept. of Communications And Journalism,
University of Kerala, India.
[email protected]
Premkumar K.P.
Research Scholar, Department of English,
University of Calicut, India.
[email protected]
Renjini T.,
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology,
Govt. College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram, India.
Sudheer S. Salam,
Lecturer, Department of Communication and Journalism,
Universityof Kerala, India.
[email protected]
Communication and Journalism Research
Volume 1, Issue 1, May 2012
Communication and Journalism Research is a refereed jounal published
twice a year by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication,
University of Calicut, Kerala, India. The journal presents a broad-ranging
account of the fast changing world of communication, bringing together
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covers analyses of new and traditional media consumption, historical
account of political communication and its research tradition, science
and environmental communication, and semiotic analysis of films.
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Volume I, Issue I, May, 2012
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