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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Truth, Half-Truth,Post-Truth, Alternatiive-Truth and anything but Truth

Truth and accuracy are corner stones for any kind of  journalism.

Today journalism includes Web and Social Media besides Print and TV. While Print media can still stick to the orthodox way of News reporting (Truth and accuracy) the other three avtars of journalism shoot from the hip. TRP and sensationalism and being fast on the trigger takes priority over truth and accuracy.

The same incident gets reported by different channels so differently that they don't even look like the same incident; so much so that a good guy in one version becomes the villain in the other.

Here's an incident reported by 

The Right Wing says a police officer was kidnapped on suspicion of being a Muslim. 

The BBC, which can be absolutely non-partisan where no White-man was involved , says simply India Policeman lynched in Kashmir. 

NDTV says "Man opens fire outside Mosque; killed by mob". It is further elaborated; man was taking photographs, when confronted he opened fire. He was caught by people and beaten to death ;police called to restore peace. 

By time you read the third narrative, it appears that a criminal was trying to disturb peace in the area and was brought to justice by law-abiding citizens and the situation was handed over to police.

Having gone through different sources , the headlines and the full story , it is amply clear that it is not the just the style of the individual reporters , but a deliberate stand taken by the Editors, based on their political ideologies and Revenue sources. 

It is really the headlines, sub-headlines and Pictures that matter as not many people read the full story. Even if they do read, it is the headlines and pictures that stick to memory, not the fine print.

Is it possible that there occur genuine gaps in a story ? I doubt . Recently I came across a term "bending of facts, at times beyond breaking point". What a way to refer to  "A white lie"?

If there is something to be happy about, by and large, the bias and prejudices are consistent. Stories which favour the stand taken by a channel are amplified and ones that are against are suppressed.

Our panelists for debates are also so biased , spokesperson or not. A seasoned TV viewer can watch a debate on  TV with the audio switched off; he would still be able to make an accurate guess of who said what . 

As a database enthusiast, all I can think of is to create a database of channels and quantify their bias. Each channel can be given a deviation quotient for Left Wing and Right Wing stories, separately. Then one will be able to compute all and arrive at minimum truth, maximum truth and average truth!

In the battle of Kurukshetra, when Dronacharya was met with misinformation from all directions, he looked up to Yudishtra for the truth. Yudishtra told the truth, though his words were selectively suppressed by Krishna.

Do we have a Yudishtra to look to when we are bombarded with all kinds of truths, half-truths, post-truth,alternate-truth and anything but truth ? The issue is further complicated by fake photographs and videos even from reputed journalists.

Under the circumstances is there any point in reading newspapers or watching TV for news ? May be for advertisements which are more truthful!

1 comment:

Ash said...

Advertisements are meant to lure but they do so unabashedly. The word news has, as you have so well written, acquired many definations.