What the media writes, shows or puts on the web will soon come under government scrutiny. The Mamata Banerjee regime is hiring a private agency to scan all reports on the government appearing in the print, electronic and web variety and submit daily reports to the chief minister. The social media, too, will be under the scanner.
It will also be the responsibility of the agency to catalogue and save all reports for future reference.
But why keep such a tab on the media and why get a private company to do the job?
"So much is going around in the media and the government needs to keep a watch. There are so many television channels and newspapers these days. Then there is the social media: Twitter and Facebook where a lot of things are being written. We want a professional agency to keep track of the developments and report these to the chief minister," said a Trinamool Congress core committee member who did not wish to be named.
"The private agency would send reports along with clippings and recordings to our chief minister daily by 3.30pm. This will keep her aware of who is saying what," said a senior minister on condition of anonymity.
The government now is in the process of scouting for an agency that can monitor the media 24x7 round the year. It would have to be equipped with the latest gadgets to scan and record news. It would operate from outside the Writers' Buildings and there would be between three to five persons monitoring the news round the clock.
The need for such close monitoring of the media arose after the chief minister alleged that a section has been trying to belittle the achievements of the government and the Trinamool party. "We want to have ready proof of such activity. Often, someone defames the government, or the chief minister, and it takes us a lot of time to gather the proof," said another minister.
There is one other reason why Mamata Banerjee is keen to monitor the print and television media. Of late, several ministers and senior party leaders have faced flak for making irresponsible comments at rallies and party meets.
Recently, the Trinamool was greatly embarrassed by the utterances of its Lok Sabha MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar on the Park Street rape case. The chief minister, who is also the head of the party, would like to keep a tab on such statements, said a senior party member.
In fact, after getting a bad press repeatedly, in December, the party issues a gag order on its leaders, asking them not to speak to the media. Everyone had to get their statements vetted by party secretary-general Partha Chatterjee before going public.