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Govt’s media managers set to turn news makers

If journalism is about breaking news, you could soon see the government playing journalist, lifting the veil of secrecy and making even sensitive information public. The media managers of the government will themselves post online the agenda for Cabinet meetings, inter-ministerial discussions and other key departmental work.

The Press Information Bureau (PIB), the government wing for dissemination of information to the media, is undergoing a massive revamp – its online functioning will be strengthened through a wide social media presence, refurbished interactive website, instant mass communication and real-time updates.

The PIB website, pib.nic.in, which gets close to 30,000 hits a day, will be made technically sound to handle more traffic and multimedia content like photos, voice files, videos and live feeds. The idea is to make the site function like a news wire so that speculative reporting can be curbed.

And this overhaul is coming at a time when two skilled media managers – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, also the information & broadcasting minister – are at the helm of affairs of the government.

“The PIB website is being redesigned and it will don a completely new avatar by the end of this financial year. It will be more interactive, with multimedia releases and social media integration,” said a government official, adding a mobile app was also underway. PIB is present on social media platforms since December 2010, when it joined Twitter under @PIBIndia handle. But it was in the past three months that its count of followers jumped by 100,000 to 330,000.

“We set up a social media cell two years ago but there has been a lot of emphasis on social media presence since the new government took charge at the Centre earlier this year,” said a senior press information officer (PIO).

At present, the social media cell has three members – a director and two young information services officers. Officials close to the development say PIB is planning to outsource the management of its media activities and trend analyses to an agency. And PIB officials will also be trained to use social media more effectively. The bureau will also register on Google +, Facebook, Instragram and other emerging platforms.

PIB also has a YouTube channel, where important briefings are uploaded for mass information. Under the expansion plan, the channel will have live feeds and video animations to explain government policies and programmes to general public.

PIOs will also be trained to speedily send text messages and live feeds to news reporters. Since the new government took charge, some PIOs have been proactive in use of technology for efficient dissemination of information and tracking of news.

Government officials said the plan was to get in sync with the prime minister’s ‘Digital India’ dream.

To reach out to faraway and rural areas of the country, PIB will also take the help of regional offices for public information campaign and involve community radio.

Through all media divisions of the government – the Directorate of Advertising and Publicity, Doordarshan, All India Radio and its song and drama division – PIB’s new avatar will not only handle the media but will work as the apex body for information broadcasting in the country.

As a senior official puts it, this government aims not only to comment on the news but be the news maker, literally.

THE NEW FACE OF PIB
  • Going social: Will have a redesigned website with social media integration and search tools; will be present on popular social media platforms – with accounts in Hindi and other regional languages as well
     
  • Wider lens: Will monitor flow of government information more efficiently
     
  • Tech upgrade: Will give multimedia releases, live feeds and updates; will generate audio-visual content on government policies – for the media and common man
     
  • Announcements: Agenda for Cabinet and inter-ministerial meetings to be uploaded on the website
     
  • For the masses: Will build platforms for better citizen engagement and connect
     
  • Professional approach: Social media analytics will likely be outsourced to an agency

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