PM Modi’s note ban tweets one-way public address: study

"His (PM Modi's) messaging on Twitter, or for that matter on any communication platform, is a one-way process — highly disciplined and focused on building support for his policies and himself."

Written by Uma Vishnu | Melbourne | Updated: November 10, 2017 8:15 am
pm modi, demonetisation, note ban, narendra modi twitter, pmo twitter account, indian express Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Files)

Exactly one year ago to this day, as India stood in queues after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to demonetise high-value currency notes, thousands of kilometres away, Usha M Rodrigues, senior lecturer in communication at Australia’s Deakin University, decided to trawl through Twitter to find out how the PM — the second most followed world leader on Twitter after the US President — would use the microblogging site to get his message across.

Rodrigues examined tweets on demonetisation that went out between November 7, 2016, and February 7, 2017, from the PM’s Twitter handle, @narendramodi, and that of the Prime Minister’s Office, @PMOIndia, besides looking at how the media engaged with key terms such as demonetisation, black money, indiafightscorruption, digital payment, ipaydigitally, indiadefeatsblackmoney. She found that during this three-month period, over 3 lakh Twitter accounts mentioned one or more of these terms and that @narendramodi and @PMOIndia posted a little over 100 tweets on demonetisation.

As she studied these tweets, the picture that emerged was that of a PM who used social media as a “one-way communication” tool to inform his then nearly 26 million followers of his and his government’s activities, someone who rarely retweeted others or engaged with his followers, and didn’t depend on mainstream news media to get his message across.

Rodrigues’s findings are now part of a research paper, titled ‘Beyond election campaigns, implications of PM @NarendraModi’s bid to sideline the Fourth Estate in India’, which will be presented at a conference of the International Communication Association in Mumbai on December 15-16. Co-authored by Dr Michael Niemann, research fellow in digital media informatics at Deakin University, the paper, says Rodrigues, will be submitted for publication in one of the ICA journals — Journal of Communication.

“We argue that Modi uses social media as his self-mass communication (Castells 2007) tool, which allows him to bypass mainstream media. His messaging on Twitter, or for that matter on any communication platform, is a one-way process — highly disciplined and focused on building support for his policies and himself. He responds to public concerns, but on his own terms rather than being dependent on the news media,” says Rodrigues, who worked as a journalist in India in the 1980s and 1990s before moving to Australia in the mid-1990s for her PhD at the University of Queensland.

Rodrigues went on to study how Modi’s online political communication adapted to changes in people’s reaction to such a drastic policy change as demonetisation. “The handle @narendramodi initiated newer Twitter hashtags to move the conversation on.”

So what are the lessons for the media from Modi’s online communication? “One, he is able to sideline the media and their questions. Two, he can reach the educated and possibly younger generation (leaders) in the community. Three, the media needs to work harder to get answers to the questions they may have. So my preliminary assessment would be that the mainstream media needs to adapt to the presence of social media or the mass self-communication means that politicians now have at their disposal. This is not different from public rallies that politicians may address, just a different platform,” says Rodrigues.

The writer was in Australia as part of a media visit organised by the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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  1. Rohit Pawar
    Nov 10, 2017 at 11:53 pm
    Modi is not Brahmin therefore he might be lacking to make India progressive but also ruining the progress which was attained in congress govt era which he blames at all time without remembering his tall promises which he had ranted during last election campaign. It is irony that RSS-VHP does not have any good Brahmin candidate for post of Prime minister role.
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      g
      Nov 11, 2017 at 3:32 am
      Racist
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    2. G
      g
      Nov 10, 2017 at 9:31 pm
      Seriously useless research! Everyone knows that Modi is more in tune with a new medium and he is able to communicate directly without the middle-man, the press. That is an advantage that few politicians have. The press in collusion with Congi Pidi's have always hounded him and Modi overruled them. LOL.
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        Pritam
        Nov 10, 2017 at 11:52 pm
        Bypassing the Press, bypasses the questions. It may appear as an advantage but it is not. Press acts as a negative feedback and flags the Government of the probable deficiencies of it's policies. Any Engineer would tell you that negative feedback is needed for stability of a closed system and every nation is one. One way communication on the other hand has no way of knowing the outcomes except for the followers who are mostly supporters, bhakts in this case. In a monarchy this would be fine but for a democracy, the negative voices are important, rather it is more important.
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          g
          Nov 11, 2017 at 3:29 am
          It is the fault of the media, primarily the English media. They should have been even-handed. Instead they joined with Sonia aka maud ka saudgar who kept attacking Gujarat and Modi as well framed cases against Hindus. The media is indignant because they want to filter the news to suit their agenda and the agenda of the opposition. To the consternation of the media, Modi used his tweets and the public responded positively, especially because he was hounded by the Congi tail circuit media, which was actually working to please Sonia and Congress.
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            g
            Nov 11, 2017 at 3:30 am
            It is the fault of the English media. They should have been even-handed. Instead they joined with Sonia aka maud ka saudgar who kept attacking Gujarat and Modi as well framed cases against Hindus. The media is indignant because they want to filter the news to suit their agenda and the agenda of the opposition. To the consternation of the media, Modi used his tweets and the public responded positively, especially because he was hounded by the Congi c o c_k_tail circuit media, which was actually working to please Sonia and Congress.
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          PN badri
          Nov 10, 2017 at 2:48 pm
          Modi very poor listening habits and hence let us ignore one sided public speeches considering his adamant at ude on vital issues. Brutal majority is main reason for autocratic rule. In GST government doing lot of somersaults due to Gujarat elections rude shock.
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          1. मदन चोपड़ा
            Nov 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm
            2019 तक देश के बाशिंदों को क़ाबिलियत और लोकप्रियता में कितना फ़र्क़ होता हैं समझ आ जायेगा।
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              nagabhushan reddy
              Nov 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm
              modiji took a good dissension note ban still fully block money stand by 2000/- note stop 2000/- note keep only 50/-new note binamy lands and gold keep the limit. thankyou
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