A GROUP of panellists debated “who’s afraid of social media” during the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards function on July 23.
Head of New Media in The Indian Express Anant Goenka, MoS (independent charge) for I&B Manish Tewari, Leader of the Opposition (Rajya Sabha) Arun Jaitley, Law and Communications & IT Minister Kapil Sibal, India Today Editor-in-Chief Arun Poorie, and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies Senior Fellow and Manushi Editor Madhu Kishwar were the panellists in the debate, moderated by CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose and The Indian Express Consulting Editor Seema Chishti. Excerpts:
Sagarika Ghose: Ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome to the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards debate. The topic this evening is “Who’s afraid of social media?” My first question to Kapil Sibal. You’ve had some run-ins with social media. Last year there was a time when you actually confronted service providers like Facebook, like Google, about certain content that was being uploaded. Do you feel that as member of the government, as a politician, you still haven’t made your peace with social media?
Kapil Sibal: Personally, I don’t think social media should bother anybody. It’s a phenomenon that is here and it is an entirely new phenomenon. I don’t think we’ve fully understood the enormity of the power of the media. On the one hand, it’s a platform which is enormously empowering because it’s a source of information. On the other hand, the very same medium is bigoted. It’s a medium which can destroy, it’s a medium that can spread anarchy. So it’s constructive and destructive at the same time, evocative and depressing at the same time. I don’t think that we should be against or for it... We have understood the importance of this medium on totalitarian regimes. But can it change democracy? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves. In the times of social media, a debate on its pros and cons
Seema Chishti: I’d like to draw in Mr Arun Jaitley to this. Do you think social media can or should be regulated? Shouldn’t it be celebrated that it can be anarchic, that it can cock a snook at the establishment, that it can give somebody who is an absolutely nobody a voice? Should