Last week, we have looked at the story of how Mr. Modi, prime minister of India, started a surgical strike against terrorism, fake currency, black money and corruption by demonetising ₨500 and ₨1000 notes.
After midnight of 8 November 2016, these notes ceased to remain a legal tender.
This move came as a huge shock to people as India is a largely cash based economy, with most used notes being ₨500 and ₨1000.
Because of the sudden move, and banks and ATM’s being closed for the next day, people were left to fend for themselves with whatever legal tender cash they had in their hands, which wasn’t much.
When banks did open, they weren’t adequately prepared to handle a huge mass of agitated public, worried about future and hungry for paper cash to fulfil their daily needs. This lead to the formation of huge queues outside banks. And created chaotic conditions in the country.
The fact that there was a limit to withdrawal from ATM’s and exchange from banks also didn’t help.
In the beginning, people were largely understanding and patient about the whole situation but as the days passed, the problems and inconvenience increased, and so did the anger of the crowd.
Public felt handicapped, as their dependency on currency that previously had little value increased exponentially, so much so that even big payments such as college fees and medicals bills were also being paid through ₨10, ₨50 and ₨100 notes.
These days, people can be seen spending money only on basic essential needs, and nobody is interested in spending any money in fear of the prospect of an uncertain future.
Still, a positive era has begun for India, as people have started embracing plastic money and online banking. Even small shopkeepers have started keeping machines for card payment, which wasn’t so common before. Rural people, who previously had no information or access to banks, also received a much needed upgrade. Now they too have a reason, opportunity as well as proper help to open their own bank accounts and have a good start to saving their hard earned money.
Changes are hard, and changes are messy. But with time Changes are necessary. And those who adapt themselves to change with time, are ones who are successful in life.
I hope that people of India will also follow suit, and adapt themselves to the change and move towards a more secure, accountable and advanced life.
A look at how Media Outlets handled this story and the angle they took to report it over the course of three days (8,9,10 November 2016) :
On the day this story broke, they chose to report it in a form of personal analysis/account of the situation by Simon Jack, who was present in the capital of the country at that time.
On the other hand, next day they chose to write a descriptive piece, telling people about the reasons for initiating this act, and the potential benefits of it along with passing forward all information they could gather about what people should expect in upcoming days.
On the third day, they reported about the ground situation, telling how this act was affecting people’s daily lives and how banks weren’t able to pump out enough cash to meet public’s needs and demand.
My take: BBC had a sense of going-with-the-flow. Upon reading its account, I felt that it was much more focused on telling what was happening at the moment, and had much less interest in predicting what could happen in time (at least during the monitored days).
On November 8, its report was kept short and pointedly focused on the details with a brief on what to expect in the coming two days.
On November 9, they didn’t have much to report. It was like a dry day for this news story.
On November 10, they reported about the problems public was facing post this act, mentioning about how managing daily expenses became hard, the unending lines and angry crowds outside banks.
On 11 November, an update on this news was featured in the international section of their newspaper, again talking about the problems of people.
My take: It took different angle to report this story. Instead on focusing on sharing information of the act, it tried to report the thoughts of people, taking in account of the ground situation, the problems people were facing, the hopes they had with this act, the potential and benefits of this act they saw.
The Washington Post
On day one, its report had it all, information about the act, idea of Prime Minister behind doing this, and initial reactions of public to this act.
On day two, it chose to tell about the conditions of people’s lives, how confusion overshadowed people’s mind, and how people became helpless as banks and ATM’s remained closed for the day.
On day three, it took up an entirely different aspect of story to report. It briefed about common people’s problems, then focussed more on the effect of the act on business sector, and included opinion of businessmen.
My take: Instead of doing a traditional follow up on story, it chose to report about different aspects of it, first telling the basics, then about the state of people on second day, then the effect on the business sector.
(News about this story was featured in the CNN Money section)
November 8 told about the act and its details, why it was done and what it aims to achieve. It also included people’s reaction on twitter about the same.
November 9 told about situation of banks and people, with former being closed and latter being distressed.
November 10 report was short and told about the long ques in front of banks, and people’s agony due to lack of cash in hand.
My take: It too had a similar approach to the story as BBC news, reporting much about facts and ground conditions along with few predictions of what is to come.
On big day, it started a minute-by-minute reporting page, for readers to know updates minute they come.
Next day, it reported an account of Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, telling people about the details and workings of this act.
On third day, they reported about the condition of people in different parts of the country, and how they were tackling the act.
My take: Since it was already maintaining a page to tell about the latest updates on the story, it dedicated its daily reports on telling about other-than-obvious aspects of story.
Times of India
On November 8, it put out 3 posts, first telling people what they could do with their old money, second a blog post about the reaction of people on twitter, and third about the aim of Mr. Modi.
On 9 November, came a more informative update about Banks and ATM’s.
On 10 November, it told about release of new notes and gave more information about the act.
My take: The best part I found about it was that it gave information to its readers in points, making it easier to quickly know more about things.
The Financial Express
Its first report describes how world media reacted to this sudden act of Mr. Modi, covering reactions of Financial Times UK, BBC etc.
Day two, it focused its attention back to the events in India, reporting about details of act and what to expect in upcoming days.
On November 10, they reported how this act would benefit in stopping dirty politics habits.
My take: It had a totally different take on the story. Reporting about world reaction, then details of act, and effects of act on dirty politics, it had a unique outlook on the story.
(It is a TV news outlet)
Breaking news of November 8 told about Mr. Modi’s sudden act of demonetisation, and details of the same in form of videos and speeches of leaders.
On NDTV Profit page, analysts gave their predictions of benefits to come from this act; in another post they talked about the measures taken by RBI to make this change as comfortable as possible for people. (November 9)
On November 10, breaking news reported about the situation of banks and problems of people in form of video reporting and interviews.
My take: It was most informative, and diverse in the ways to put out information. As it is a TV outlet, it was the platform where the story originally broke, giving it a certain edge.
Reported about the opposition’s stand and how they thought this act was not thought through and would cause innocent people trouble they didn’t deserve.
In another report it told about the details related to banks and ATM’s.
It also published a report speculating how Mr. Modi managed to keep this act secret and pull it off effectively.
My take: It too had a different outlook while presenting this story. Instead of putting all of their focus on telling the details of the act and other related information, it told people about other interesting things such as opposition party’s stand on this, and the way this act was pulled off.
What I learned by following this story for a week:
I learned that it is easiest yet essential to report about the details of the act, but that going beyond telling just the details is vital to capture and keep on holding people’s attention. As in today’s time, there are multiple news outlets informing people about the same story. And because of this the chances of reader knowing the obvious is a lot. What the readers now needs is a combination of basic details and updates but also a twist or different side of story incorporated in one.