In the morning yesterday, I was browsing through a newspaper from a leading media brand in India. There was a report on the possibility of code of conduct being imposed on news media by the Election Commission on the eve of elections in future. And prominently visible was the view of the newspaper, in a box, arguing how regressive the step would be. The editor seemed to be yelling against the possible disruption of press freedom.
I was wondering. It may not be the right thing at the time of revival of ‘cargo cult science’ in our academic discourses, when our political leaders slipping into bigotry to build a stronger nation, and when policymakers engaging in rampant corruption in an effort of bringing economic prosperity.
But news media will not mark ‘sponsored’ to paid news; interestingly, Google does not do honestly too. News media will twist factual representations to influence readers negatively while glorifying acts that go against the basic tenets of freedom and liberty, and rational thinking and temper.
“It is bread and butter for them, the ordinary donkeys. And it is clout and command for us, the powerful jackals.” An influential person of news industry once summed up the situation over a cocktail dinner.
It’s nothing new. Past is fertile with monstrous examples. Who can deny the alleged role of William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers for triggering the Spanish-American War in 1898? It’s their persistent and proactive coverage of Spanish exploitation and terming the explosion of American ship Maine as Spanish deed.
It’s not only the bias. It’s also the sterile mind. What can exemplify more than the effort of the New York Times for sending its golf correspondent, Henry Crouch, to interview Albert Einstein? This news story reported how Einstein found a publisher for his book on General Theory of Relativity while challenging if more than a dozen of people in the entire world can understand the content. Well, there was no such book or no such publisher. But the myth was created. It persists till date hazing the storyline.
That is the power of news media. And serious are the weaknesses.
It’s not singular. Rather regular are such reports. It’s amazing of the way newspapers publish reports – the most recent one being the ‘discovery of an earth-like planet’. The report could have been ‘discovery of an earth-like planet without atmosphere,’ but then it will not click! It needs to be appeared as though we may like to ship ourselves ahead tomorrow of about 500 light years to live there.
News media, even though without shackles in democracies like India, USA or elsewhere, is deeply confused of freedom with complacency, ignorance, bias, bigotry and insensitivity. It is not free; and an imposition of election-time code of conduct will not do any big harm.