Of manufactured news and biased reportage

“Manufactured news” best describes the kind of reportage which has been going on offlate in India. Midnightbreakfast blog has constantly highlighted this aspect whether it was the Yakub Memon case or the murder which took place in Dadri, UP. Job of the media is to report news and not impose views on the news consuming public. However, what is instead observed is that the main stream media in India is quick to latch onto a “Story” which fits their narrative and blows it out of proportion, milks it till they can no longer attract incremental eye balls. Its a classic case of media bias.

Ofcourse, the victim in the entire episode gets side tracked and all that is highlighted is what is meant to be highlighted in the first place. We have heard stuff like “Idea of India under threat”, “Rising instances of intolerance in the country” etc. etc. Such sweeping generalisations often indicate lack of substance.The lame defense of “shooting the messenger” also doesnt work incase the media argues back because the media is not longer “just a messenger”. The power which the media yields is huge but power comes with responsibility. But what it has displayed offlate is irreponsible journalism.

The unfortunate incident at Dadri, UP received tremendous media coverage. Media was falling over itself to cover the incident in UP. The crime should hve been treated as a crime, been thoroughly investigated to ensure the guilty are brought to book. Instead, the media frenzy surrounding the case politicised the case. But it seems that the media has an axe to grind. In another incident in Maharastra which can be found here a police constable was murdered. But this incident wont fit the narrative being sold offlate. Sadly it might just remain a statistic.

Arun Jaitley called the recent events “manufactured”. This was seconded by Sir Mark Tully, the venerable broadcast journalist here . He feels the beef controversy is an artificial one created by the press in India He says, “‘a lot of controversies regarding the beef issue is being manufactured and it is an artificial crises in this peace-loving country’.  “I have been living in Nizamuddin for more than a decade which is national captial’s most densely Muslim-populated area, but never came across any Muslim who prefer to eat cow meat/beef.” He further said, “There are communities who eat flesh of canines, but they respect the sentiments of people like me who are animal or dog lovers, similarly, Muslims in India too respect the sentiments of other community and avoid food culture which may hurt others.”

Consistency of reportage with balanced coverage is what leads to a build of credibility which is so very important for media outlets. However, what is on display is a diametrically opposite destructive kind of reporting.

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Breathless Media at it again ..

Came across this thoughtful piece in Swarajya by one Mr Harsh Gupta. The piece is about a different issue though. But his views on the recent crime in UP (referred to as beef murder etc etc by the media) are thought provoking.

Certain tragedies are highlighted for weeks and months in India, and certain ones are never mentioned beyond one or two reports – but the humans who suffer or perish in all cases are equally human nonetheless.

So many crimes happen daily. A crime is a crime and it should be dealt with sternly. But why is it that the media keeps on highlighting some whereas others are plain neglected or relegated to the inside pages. Here’s why;

Hers was an inconvenient story that would not fit the victimhood narrative sold to conservatives who are fighting for cultural separation in the name of inclusive liberalism.

Just because others dont fit into the narrative sold by the media, they are simply ignored.

The lawlessness under Akhilesh, which should have been the REAL subject of media scrutiny is no where in the scene. The victim in this and all cases desires justice and the media should stop converting his / her plight into a circus.

‘Talvar’ is razor sharp – Spoiler Alert!!

This blog doesnt review movies. But this movie really happened to strike a chord. How dysfunctional the justice delivery system in India can get at times is portrayed realistically.

The movie is ‘Talvar’ and essentially revolves around the unfortunate ‘Arushi – Hemraj’ double murder case which took place in 2008. The movie showcases different points of view viz., the police, the CBI’s two diametrically opposite views and ofcourse the parents.

The portrayal of the shoddy police investigation whereby the crime scene was terribly compromised is shown very effectively. A case which could have been solved had basic crime investigation SOP’s been followed takes twists and turns in short time intervals. The CBI’s investigative procedures are expectedly better than the extremely low level police investigative work. But then the familiar interference one hears of in CBI investigation is shown in the movie. The investigative officer, brilliantly portrayed by Irfan Khan, gets excruciatingly close to solving the case when he is betrayed by his fellow investigative officer who effectively sabotages their own investigative work by manipulating the evidence at the behest of the new director. The case is later handled by another officer who comes to a totally different conclusion.

The movie managed to hold attention till the very end. Backed by superb acting, story, screenplay and direction this surely is a winner.

Beef Murder? Makes for a great headline !! Hey, wait a minute, heard similar stuff earlier!!

A pattern has clearly emerged after the BJP led NDA government came to power back in May 2014. The popular main stream media has curiously started reporting serious law and order issues as instances of sectarian violence. Curiously, these crop up at around election time. The aim is obviously to create an impression of a broader trend of religious intolerance and minorities under siege in India. Attempt is being made to link everything to the new government and how there is hatred on the ground against in India.

In this context happened to come across this excellent piece by Sadhguru of Isha Foundation. He tackles questions ranging from “Ghar Wapasi”, “minorities under siege” to the “beef ban” issue. Superb views must say. He talks about how certain proselytizing religions have historically always used inducements to convert sections of populations and how it has always been a numbers game for these religions as they would be losing out if their numbers decrease. It is seeing a backlash now and certain sections feel that they are losing out in the numbers game.

Regarding the “threat to minorities”, he says that except a few stray incidents, the general ethos is peaceful in the country. The attempts by certain sections to create an impression of hatred on the ground is completely untrue. There seems to be sustained attempts to isolate India internationally as a horrible place for minorities by internationalising the whole thing. The majority – minority angle has been manufactured and politically engineered.

On beef ban, he says that the ban is NOT against any religion. First of all the ban has been in place for quite some time now atleast in Maharashtra. He cites the ill effects of eating beef and how even in the west its consumption is on the decline. In India, cows are a part of the culture. Children are taught in school that cow is like a second mother. So when a cow is cut and eaten, it is aesthetically impossible in the Indian mind.

Past episodes of media reportage (read the Church attacks) dont inspire confidence in anything that the media offers as news. Attempts are being made to paint simple law and order issues as a majority – minority issue / communal issue. If there is crime, the guilty should be dealt with. Period. But to sell more newspapers or to gain more TRP’s news shouldnt be manufactured. Clearly, if such state of affairs persist, the Indian media faces a crisis of credibility.