“Bias” in Indian Media – an Insider’s view

One very common allegation I’ve heard these days is that the Indian media isn’t honest. There are those who try and sensibly analyze the issue, and those whose vitriolic comments are quite honestly an embarrassment to sensible bloggers in India. But to sum up, here are the main allegations:

  1. The Indian media is anti Hindu
  2. Big media houses are “pro minority”
  3. Political parties (especially the Congress) fund the media for favorable coverage

Now my personal opinion is that these are false. Of course, since I don’t have all the information, it may not count for much. But my reasons for disbelieving them are:

  1. It will have to be a massive conspiracy on an impressive scale covering all the big media houses
  2. It has to be so well concealed that no one gets any proof whatsoever
  3. I find it impossible to believe that other well funded parties like the BJP would not have exposed such a conspiracy by now if there was any truth in it
  4. It means that all editors, associated bloggers and correspondents are involved. Meaning that every single reporter and writer is dishonest
Is the Indian Media Biased?

Is the Indian Media Biased?

Such considerations to my mind, are too great a barrier to overcome. However, I could always be wrong and so I withheld my opinions on this until I was able to grab some reliable information instead of shooting off my mouth and making an idiot of myself.

One of my college mates from Stephen’s has been working for the TOI for quite a while now. Like all corporate employees, he has a good deal of disillusionment with work life in general and with his own company specifically. Without intending to flatter him, he’s one of the most well informed guys I know. Unlike many others in our college who studied day and night for the IAS mugging up facts from books, this guy seemed to know everything without even trying. Combine this with his somewhat impressive academic achievements, and we have a dude who’s opinion I trust – especially when he’s in a position to know the facts.

So I decided to ask him about the perceived media biases.I reproduce the chat I had with him verbatim:

Bhagwad Park 14:20
Oh MM – now that you’re here let me ask you something I can’t ask anyone else

MM 14:21
sure..

Bhagwad Park 14:22
See – there’s a lot of debate on whether the India media is biased against the BJP, sympathetic to muslims, the congress party and the Gandhi-Nehru family specifically

MM 14:22
media like everything else is divided

MM 14:22
There are even more who speculate that major national media like the TOI even receive funding
from these sources 14:22

MM 14:22
haha
categorically, no 14:22
for toi i can tell yu 14:22
and u know i have problems with this place, so i aint singing for my supper 14:23
no organisational tilt at all 14:23
its a liberal paper 14:23
will tilt a bit here and there based on issues 14:23

others r different 14:24
rediff.com for eg., clearly goes right 14:24
online 14:24

in print HT is a congress aligned paper, its owner is a Cong MP 14:24
but no it dont get any money from Cong either 14:25

Hindu is a liberal paper too, but its current editor is a commie 14:25
but the paper remains fairly liberal and left of centre, nothing more 14:25

Indian Express doesnt matter to readers, its liberal too 14:25
but will be anti-gov of any party in power 14:26

DNA is also similar – largely liberal but its ed and owners are a little righty 14:26

so thats where the right -wing in india has a prob 14:26
they see the english media as biased 14:27
i see it as sensible 14:27

language media is a whole diff ballgame 14:27
diff alignments and biases 14:27
vary by region 14:27
and also have issues of parties funding some of the smaller outfits – but thats a big ‘maybe’ 14:28
but those alignments r very clear 14:28
for people in the know 14:28
so not much of a problem 14:28

big media houses like Times dont need money from parties 14:28
and would in fact run away from any such offers 14:28
for the strings that would come attached 14:28

english Tv media is also largely liberal on the communal front 14:29
can be left-right/soft-hard on other issues 14:29

Bhagwad Park 14:29
This also goes for television houses like NDTV etc?

MM 14:29
thats abt it
yes 14:29

Bhagwad Park 14:29
Ok…but people present statistics showing that Hindu deaths for example go unreported and that Muslim deaths are presented in all fanfare

Bhagwad Park 14:30
Coincidence, incompetence
or what? 14:30

MM 14:30
rubbish

MM 14:30
communal deaths are communal
besides india is founded on a very clear ideal 14:30
u must remember that 14:30
and was split very painfully on an opposing ideal 14:31
one major reason for the ‘majority’ to be accomodative of the ‘minorities’ 14:31

Bhagwad Park 14:31
See this one small quote from a blogger for example:

Bhagwad Park 14:32
“The Indian media needs to project riots between Hindus and some other community to be selective persecution of the ‘minority’. This impression can again be only created by largely omitting the violence committed against the Hindus. This, I believe, is the reason that the deaths of around 200 Hindus that had occurred in post-Godhra riots in Gujarat are hardly given any coverage. ”
Now I don’t know the details 14:32

Bhagwad Park 14:32
So what response would you give to something like that?

MM 14:32
over 2000 muslimes died

MM 14:32
in a near-genocide
where they were targeted 14:32
so thats the answer 14:33
200 vs 2000 14:33

Bhagwad Park 14:33
Hmm

MM 14:33
provocation was limted
and result was a planned pogrom 14:33
where everyone co-operated 14:33
its was like nazi germany 14:33

MM 14:33
the police watched
on orders to do so 14:33

MM 14:34
CM presided over the carnage
so now, you tell me, whats scarier? 14:34

MM 14:34
in streets where some muslims had houses and shops
only those were targeted – based on electoral rolls supplied by the admin – this has been proven in courts 14:34
so thats no riot. 14:35
A riot is spontaneous and uncontrolled, total chaos 14:35
this is targeted slaughter 14:35
I agree radical islam is a problem 14:35
many muslims do not ‘integrate’ into the larger mainstream across the world 14:35
even in India 14:36
and India must be considered a secular nation of clearly hindu-majority character 14:36
just as say Europe or the US are secular but shaped by their christian ethos and history 14:37
…but thats no reason for the majority not to safeguard its minorities

MM 14:38
thats the compact we made at independence
to prove to a country like Paksitan, thats we’re NOT them 14:38
we’re not founded on an exclusivist principle 14:38
we’re inclusive and open to all 14:38

MM 14:39
hindu fundamentalists are idiots who dont realise that want they want is a Hindu version of Pakistan

Bhagwad Park 14:39
Yes, I know the ideals
Odd MM – I didnt’ know you had the “Mera bharat mahan” spirit :D 14:39

Bhagwad Park 14:39
Nice going.

MM 14:39
the idea of india is a beautiful one , my friend

Bhagwad Park 14:39
True

MM 14:40
considering where it came from and how it came into being too
quite extraordinary 14:40
any historian will tell you that 14:40
India is still like Europe 14:40
but happens to be one nation 14:40
some sort of miracle really 14:40
only part of kashmir and the NE today question the conept of indianess 14:41
no one else does 14:41

MM 14:41
thats a remarkable achievement in nation building

Bhagwad Park 14:41
Tis tis
Thanks for the feedback 14:41

MM 14:42
ok, thats it for today
true blood and sleep beckon 14:42

Bhagwad Park 14:42
I’ll send you a link…
14:42
ciao 14

I had to do a little bit of cut and paste to compensate for the synchronization problems usually found on Internet chat, but it’s otherwise “as is.” Since his views on the Godhra violence weren’t directly related to the question on media bias, I thought of leaving them out but decided to keep them in the end cause he brought out some good points.

We have to know which sources to trust. Those alleging a national media bias don’t have any evidence. Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean they’re wrong. But when I do have opinions from people I trust who are in a position to know, I choose to believe them.

Update: I had missed this great link which gives the official position of the Times of India on its role in the political spectrum. It terms itself as a classically liberal newspaper and illustrates how it handles various issues including the right to freedom of expression.

What do you think of this post?
  • You're an asshole (9)
  • Agree (8)
  • Don't Agree but Interesting (2)

1 2 3 6

Comments

  1. You may want to read this http://vinodksharma.blogspot.com/2010/09/for-toda

    While I don't think the larger media houses accept money from politicians and/or political parties, I do feel that at times they are more favourable to the ruling party…I guess they need great interviews and sound bytes to survive…

    In Kashmir, the media is censored…I don't know if it is right or wrong…

    Reply

    • In reply to sraboneyghose

      I'm not quite sure I completely agree with the linked article's author. I feel that anyone can pick and choose events there were either covered or not covered by the media to "prove" their theory that the media is biased one way or the other.

      Just the other day for example, Nimmy had posted on the apparent bias of the media the other way round.

      And sometimes the media really gives it to the UPA – take the whole rotting foodgrains issue. The government is on the carpet and it's the media who has inflamed the people about it. As a reader of the daily nationals I have a pretty good understanding of the achievements and failures of the current coalition. This would certainly not be the case if the media intended to black out the failures.

      By the by Sraboney, your name now links to your blog. How did you manage that?

      Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        While the media might not be 'owned' by the present ruling party at the Centre, they have to keep them happy for obvious reasons. So the bias and it is unmistakable. The views of one professional (which professional will speak against his own?) can just be another viewpoint, nothing more nothing less.

        Reply

      • In reply to zephyr

        As I said in my post Zephyr, this chap and I were fairly tight in college and he wouldn't tell me anything other than what he really felt. He's also very disillusioned with his job and the TOI in general so he has no reason to be biased.

        As far as the other pressures go, I don't know enough. The media and the government are always at loggerheads and this usually limits the amount of coercion that the government can apply. After all, all it would take would be for a media house to publish in a newspaper that the ruling party threatened them with this or that and the opposition would be down on the government like a ton of bricks calling for strikes and what not…

        So I feel there can't be a systematic bias. It might blow hot or cold, but I don't think anyone's dictating terms to the other.

        Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        I have no idea…

        Reply

  2. Bhagwad, I very sincerely feel that our media is manipulated by powers that be. There is little doubt about it. This is not visible on an everyday basis but you can see it off and on. I wouldn't say that they're biased by design but yes they're used to portray a story in a particular manner so that views and opinions of viewers are influenced.
    For example, CM Rossaih's convoy killed two women recently. However it wasn't reported anywhere except one odd website. You can read about it here. http://www.cinejosh.com/telugu-political-news/844
    Imagine if it had been Narendra Modi in place of Rossaih the media would've plastered him for this.
    Yet another instant is non declaration of money recovered from former MCI president Ketan Desai which was to the tune of Rs 1800 crore. You can read about it over here on my blog. http://www.cinejosh.com/telugu-political-news/844
    There are many other instances such as these. BJP may try whatever they wish to but it is Congress which is in power. And it is they who decide what needs to be portrayed in which manner.

    Reply

    • In reply to SushJ

      Thanks for your views SushJ. Isn't it possible the perceived bias is because of the media's love for sensationalism instead of a deliberate political move? An accident involving Modi would obviously be more newsworthy now wouldn't it? The media houses have no mandate to be social organizations. They're corporations with a profit motive first after all…

      Incidentally, I checked out your post on Ketan Desai and replicated your Google search. The first two links were working when I checked it….perhaps there was a glitch in the systems when you tried? I have no idea

      Importantly, if there is a political bias, then there must be money involved. And that's a smoking gun which leaves them wide open to investigation. No corporation interested in its long term future would do it, and like my friend mentioned above, they would run away from such an offer.

      Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        Bhagwad, check it out once again. The links take you to a story where they're talking of 2 crore bribe not 1800 crore recovered from him. These guys have been told to shut up or else……. You know the rest.

        Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        “Isn’t it possible the perceived bias is because of the media’s love for sensationalism instead of a deliberate political move?”. What are you trying to say here? why cant both the news get published? . I dont think that the TOI (or any other channel) have very less time to give the news, even a two minute coverage is fine if not a lengthy program like that on Narendra modi you cover. The problem what I always see is, the media covers only one side but not the other e.g.”There are 150 churches vandalised in karnataka” this news was in the news which is fine but when it comes to the same thing happening to hindu temples in GOA where more than 36 temples vandalised till now does not get a single news coverage. why is that?
        Many people say that vandalising these temples is an attemp of stealing something, but why will the theif vandalise idols? why cant the media blame khristians the same way they shout againsts hindu organisations?
        Below are some of the links where the temple vandalisation reports are there:
        http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/1854.html
        http://www.chakranews.com/250-hindu-temple-thefts-and-desecrations-in-goa-unite-temple-panels-to-take-a-stand/1071

        Reply

  3. Bhagwad,sorry the link to Ketan Desai post was wrongly posted. Here's the correct link. http://www.makesplash.com/why-arent-we-talking-ab

    Reply

  4. Sadly, in a country like India, EVERYTHING is politicised and reality is contorted before presenting to the public. And very unfortunately, media does play along with the audience.

    I don't know about 'persecution of Muslims' in India. The place where I lived – we had a Temple, Church and Mosque all within 5 minutes walking distance, of each other. During festive seasons, we share Diwali sweets, Eid biriyani and Christmas plum cakes.

    And in the last FORTY YEARS (nearly), we have not witnessed a single incident that proves that any one caste is subject to any sort of violence. Touch wood!!

    Therefore, I don't know, the 'amount of truth' (which is itself contradictory, because truth must be absolutely, musn't it?!!) when people say that 'Minorities are persecuted'. Ask a student belonging to a 'forward caste' community and see his/her response. He/she would tremble at the thought of having to compete for those very limited seats in a college – these students, having scored 90% marks, would have to compete (without hope) with those belonging to Muslim'/Christian or SC/ST communities scoring only 40%. I myself, did not get admission into ANY college simply because I was not a backward caste child, or a Muslim or Christian. HOW FAIR IS THAT?!

    Anyway, I think every bit of news is hugely hyped because of politicians and media. POLITICIANS START A FIRE, AND MEDIA FANS THE FLAMES.

    Politicians and media are both powerful, and both corrupt. Destroy the evil in both, and we will have a better place to live in.

    Reply

    • In reply to Pal

      I agree with sush above, media is completely manipulated!

      And not just that, NO OTHER COUNTRY OFFERS SUCH VAST POWERS AND QUOTAS FOR MINORITIES AS INDIA DOES. It is only in India, that people who call themselves 'minorities' weild this much power and influence. Again, boils down to cheap politics and vote bank.

      Reply

      • In reply to Pal

        You're right Pal. Most of us have no idea about communal violence. I personally have never even seen any discrimination. All I can say is that it happens far away from wherever I stay.

        Just one thing – your name doesn't link to your blog URL in your comment. You should type your blog URL in your wordpress profile or logout when posting a comment so that you can enter your name, email and URL…

        Reply

    • In reply to Pal

      Mr.Pal

      Can you give examples of colleges where there is a "muslim" , "christian" quota??????????

      Except the minority run institutions………i am highly curious…….

      Reply

      • In reply to Indian Pundit

        Indian Pundit – To even suggest that colleges have / do not have a Muslim/christian quota is ridiculous!!

        Ground reality – The average forward caste student will not get admission into a minority run institution on the basis of religion. He/she will not get admission into a general institution on the basis of caste. Either way, he/she is screwed. Unless, ofcourse, he/she has a rich dad!!!!

        The whole point of this discussion is – ARE MINORITIES REALLY PERSECUTED? Or is this hyped and politicised by both media and politicians, to gain TRPs and Vote Banks?!!!

        Reply

      • In reply to Pal

        "To even suggest that colleges have / do not have a Muslim/christian quota is ridiculous!! "

        How is this quota implemented since there is NO GOVT. POLICY on this??
        Give specific examples……or else these claims have no basis.

        Reply

      • In reply to Indian Pundit

        I am from Kerala and I am a Christian. I don't know of any reservation for Christians anywhere. But I'd to see SC/ST people not studying and bagging jobs while the so called upper caste Hindus struggling (Nairs, Nambiars and even Varmas).

        IMvHO reservations should be based on economic backwardness. Not based on caste which doesn't show their backwardness in changing economic circumstances. It will also deny the needy access to jobs and services

        Reply

      • In reply to Cherian

        Agreed

        Reply

    • In reply to Pal

      righly said pal abt media and politic quote

      Reply

  5. Bhagwad ,

    Again , what i wrote in Ketan's blog is being echoed by PD.
    I am also impressed by what he said:
    "the idea of india is a beautiful one , my friend"
    Right-wingers are out to destroy this very beautiful Idea.

    Also all these changes are TYPICAL RIGHT-WING charges against liberal media.
    Same happens in USA . Same happens in India.

    Reply

    • In reply to Indian Pundit

      While I mostly agree with your view on this IP, I think we shouldn't automatically keep abusing people as right wing. I think we can use it in a discussion to describe a certain type of person, but not as an insult.

      If we do that then others are also justified in using stupid words like "Commie", "Armchair Intellectual" etc on others. We shouldn't replicate tactics like that, but must be above it. We must show that the way to argue is to just discuss ideas and not talk about an individual's character. Let's leave that to childish people who don't know how to argue…

      Actually the conservative right wing in the US is far more powerful than the one in India. In the US, they actually have national news channels like FOX which are heavily tilted towards the republican party. Let's hope the same thing doesn't happen in India…

      Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        Bhagwad, read this article http://www.pressherald.com/note-of-apology.html It's unbelievable…

        Editors at the Portland Press Herald were 'forced' to apologize to their readers for portraying Muslims as human…Why did they have to apologize? Because of a prominently placed photograph of Portland-area Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan on Sept. 11…

        The paper's Editor and Publisher wrote, "We erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page." How could this story have been balanced – by an accompanying article and photographs of the carnage of 9/11?

        This is what journalism is today…

        Reply

      • In reply to sraboneyghose

        This showcases up an important issue. The media is after all representative of the people's views and feelings. If it ever strays too far from it (as it did in this case), there will be a backlash and they will be punished.

        So would you say there was a media bias against Muslims in this case? I would say "no", because they went ahead and did what they thought was right…but they made the mistake of not thinking about how it would seem to their readers. So they had to change it.

        But to me this issue highlights how people in the US view Muslims as being responsible and inextricably linked to 9/11. It's sad isn't it?

        Reply

      • In reply to sraboneyghose

        Sraboney and Bhagwad,

        Yes, Bhagwad is right that in a way media covers that which the patrons would want covered. And the above apology is an example of that. But, patrons would never contend that "please do not report certain facts in the events that you cover as those facts are disturbing". So yes, patron might e.g., want Gujarat riots and Narendra Modi's response to that reported, but obviously there is nothing the patrons can do, if they have no inkling that certain facts are being concealed. People just cannot say that "please report the deaths of those 200 Hindus" if they do not know that those 200 Hindus had died. People cannot demand that "please quote the official number of Muslim deaths", if they have little idea that the official figure stood at close to 800 and not 2000!

        If I report in my newspaper that "Bhagwad says he hates cats and wants all cats killed", people might point out that Bhagwad is a non-entity, why mention what he thinks, in that you would be right that I would stop reporting what you feel/do not feel about cats. But the important thing is, how many would know and how would people suspect that what I would report in my newspaper is utterly cooked up? So, this is the psychological flaw that media exploits, i.e., people directly start responding emotionally, but very few actually try to question if the assertion is correct in the first place!

        Reply

  6. Why didn't you ask your journalist friend about the 'freedom of expression' campaign for MF Hussain?
    And why those freedom of expression fans were conspicuously absent when discussing the prophet cartoons and Salman Rushdie/Taslima Nasreen?
    And let him not show his holier than thou attitude saying that we are good people and Hindu fundamentalists are bad like pakistanis. All the media were very vocal in supporting Shah Rukh Khan when he said Pakistan is a good neighbor.

    And about post-Godhra riots, he may be within his own rights when he says that CM Modi is guilty. But why newspapers say that Isharat Jahan is not a terrorist until proven. Seriously??? What about Mr. Modi then? Is he proven guilty in court?

    And by the way, I don't think media is anti hindu – I think the so called liberals in the media do not have the balls to say anything (even if it is right) against muslims.

    Reply

    • In reply to Abhilash

      Thanks for commenting Abhilash. I feel Husain got much more coverage because he was Indian and local Mumbai thugs wanted to beat him up – so naturally there was more interest.

      But aren't all fundamentalists more or less the same everywhere whether it's India or Pakistan, or the US? Each wants their own brand of religion/culture to be supreme to the detriment of others – after all, that's the meaning of fundamentalist isn't it?

      I agree with you that we mustn't pass judgment on Modi until the court says he is guilty.

      I also agree with you when you say that the media doesn't have the balls to say some really unpopular stuff. Though they do try sometimes – I remember the TOI coming out very strongly in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality when most people in the country didn't want it – including the Islamic leaders. So it looks like it's a mix – sometimes this, sometimes that. Sometimes nothing…

      Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        >> I agree with you that we mustn't pass judgment on Modi until the court says he is guilty.
        Doesn't that make your theory go down the drain? Your 'unbiased' friend said "CM presided over the carnage". C'mon man!
        And you are trusting his comments in concluding that that Indian media is not biased. Am I missing something here?

        Reply

      • In reply to Abhilash

        I had mentioned in my post that we were discussing two different issues and I included the part about Modi only because it brought out some interesting points about India in general. With regard to the Modi issue, he's obviously not an authority and so I can take what he says as his personal opinion.

        But when he talks about the media he does have some authority to speak and so I take it as more than just a personal opinion. The two aren't the same.

        Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        So according to you (and him), media is unbiased and does not consider Modi guilty, just like they consider Ishrat jahan not guilty. Am I right?
        He is talking about the media in which he is part of. If he is right about the rest of the media, he is a very poor fit in a important institution. And his thoughts are radically different from the ideologies of the organization he work for.
        How can you expect him to be neutral about his perception of Media-himself to be impartial, especially when he uses a statement like "CM presided over the carnage" as a supporting argument to prove his cause?

        Reply

      • In reply to Abhilash

        Abhilash, we were discussing two unrelated issues. They were:

        1. Is the Media unbiased
        2. The Modi issue

        The second one is his personal opinion only and not that of the media. That was just two friends talking. The first point however is not just his personal opinion. It has the weight of authority behind it. So while I have no reason to believe the second point, I have a good reason to believe the first one.

        Mind you, the accusations against the media is one of systematic bias – not just one or two individuals feeling differently. His views on Modi are certainly not influenced because the Congress bribed him to think that way.

        The point about Modi has nothing to do with this particular post. It came up on the sidelines. Just because a person holds a different opinion doesn't make them unfit to work for an organization. We're all human beings and entitled to our own views no? As long as it doesn't affect one's work why should it matter?

        Mind you I'm not saying that Modi is either innocent or guilty. That's what the courts are for. I personally dislike Modi because I've heard some speeches he's given and I don't like the language he uses – too demagogue like for my taste. And his role in the post Godhra riots is suspect. But till the court proves him guilty he has the benefit of the doubt. But one can have one's personal opinion no?

        Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        Unrelated? I don't think so.
        All the right wing bloggers use the Modi issue to showcase media's partiality. Even supposedly highly educated English news anchors presume Modi guilty but are reluctant to presume Ishrat Jahan guilty. Your arguments give the idea Modi have been given special rough treatment – but that does not mean media is biased. When the right wing point you an incident to disprove your notion that media is biased, you say it has no bearing. I just don't get it. And btw, we are talking about bias, systematic or otherwise.

        And about the person being misfit, I still believe (isn't it wonderful to live in a democracy, we can both differ in opinion and still live peacefully together) what I said. HP CEO Mark Hurd had to resign because he did one, just one thing that does not confirm to the company standards. Mr. Hurd's personal beliefs cannot be questioned, but that should not be in conflict with the ethics that the company stand for. All employees, CEO to the last level, represent the company and cannot, at all times, conflict against the fundamental principles/ethics/standards of a company. Your friend is in direct conflict with what a newspaper should stand for. That makes him a misfit. If you are working in law enforcement and believe snorting cocaine is the best thing that a human can do, you become an automatic misfit. You will be fired the moment your supervisor discovers that. Another example is, the fundamental rights like freedom of religion. You cannot believe that only Hindus should live in India and then pass judgement on Indian constitution. Well, you can (free country, afterall), but that won't have any credibility.

        Reply

      • In reply to Abhilash

        I think you have a valid point Abhilash, but it doesn't apply to all situations. One can always wear two hats and we have lots of examples of good professionals putting aside their personal feelings and doing their job without letting it affect them. The important thing is whether it affects their job. So the HP CEO did one thing – not thought one thing. I feel that distinction is important to make.

        In the end, we must also admit that the media isn't a court. It's a reflection of the people's mood to a large extent – though it also has the power to shape the people's mood. It's a two way relationship. The media can never stray too far away from what its readers think and their tastes otherwise people will lose interest in it.

        So if the media covers Modi excessively, it's because the public wants to hear about it and that's what interests them. It's not because the media has a personal bone to pick. Modi sells copies and so he's there. I think the same applies to all other situations where media bias is implied. What do the people want to know about or hear about. Don't you think this is a valid point of view?

        Finally, we are definitely talking about systematic bias here. Which is why we're interested in funding and all. Systematic bias is worrying because it means that there's something seriously wrong and some vested interests are controlling things. One off single case bias isn't a good thing of course, but that happens everywhere and it's easier to live with. Sure, it sucks for the person who's at the receiving end no doubt but given a choice, I would choose personal bias over systematic bias any day.

        Reply

  7. Bhagwad,

    I have drafted my response here – In Response to Bhagwad's contention that Media Cannot be Manipulated on Large Scale (click). But as the response happens to be long, obviously as I had to respond to all of your points and also to your friend's, I thought I better ask your permission before posting my comments here.

    You have contended that Gujarat riots is just a one-off case, but I do not agree with it, simply because reporting on Gujarat riots has not been one-off. The words written and spoken on the riots and their handling are not measly by any standards, and each instance of how what was reported or opined upon, stands as a reflection of the underlying attitude (and perhaps) motives of those reporting and opining.

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • In reply to Ketan

      Hey Ketan, what's up with all those (click) in links?

      Reply

      • In reply to SJA

        SJA,

        I use '(click)' as an indicator that the typed text is a link, because I have noticed that at few places, links do not appear as separate color/decoration and that makes the reader miss them, especially when reading from a cell phone. Hope, this helps!

        Reply

  8. Most of the stats contained in Wikipedia article on the role of police in control of Gujarat riots were present in this article – More fall prey to police firings in Gujarat (click). As I have mentioned in my response that many articles covering Gujarat are becoming difficult to track on the web and are reporting errors on entering the URL. But (fortunately) Google cache had captured the above article, and it is here (click). Would the disappearance of such article make one suspicious, or is it just some technical snag (it was cached as recently as just over two months back)?

    Reply

    • In reply to Ketan

      A quick reply to this one Ketan. You're right, the Wikipedia stats should definitely not reference this source. Even from the cache, I can make out that it's poorly written and isn't worthy of being called reliable – probably why it was removed in the first place.

      I would suggest you remove those portions of the Wikipedia article that reference that article. After all, that's why makes Wikipedia a truly representative work. If you have the time, it would be much appreciated…

      Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        Bhagwad,

        It was removed 8 years after first publication! Moreover, it was not referenced from the cache, Wikipedia still cites the original URL. It's just that someone at the ToI for indeterminate reasons removed the text of the article, which contains some very important statistics. And I did not understand what was poor about its quality. Are you by any chance referring to the poor formatting, in particular, the lack of capitalization and spacing between paragraphs? It seems that it was quite a normal article some time back, the way it seems to have been faithfully copied and pasted by someone else here (click). If that article would be properly formatted, would you consider the statistics reliable? Would it have been more ethical to correct the formatting or to entirely remove the text of an article, which many people have extensively quoted?

        Moreover, in all likelihood, the article must have been quite alright as I had myself checked these links more than a year back. If the article gets properly formatted, would you consider the article reliable?

        What should Wikipedia use for citation if not 'reliable sources' like the ToI [I used to contribute to Wikipedia quite extensively (click), I don't think any of the administrators would have objected to quoting it]. The ToI article sufficiently meets the requirements of reliability in that ToI is (at least used to be) the largest selling English daily in the World!

        So obviously I am quite shocked by what you suggest. Yes, of course, one should remove the original URL as it is no longer working, but obviously, the google cache link can be used to substitute, which in itself is considered reliable enough. Of course, if one wishes to totally block access to such statistics then it would be a good idea to remove them from Wikipedia page itself.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        You're right about the formatting. I just assumed that since the article was removed, then it must have been a mistake to publish it in the first place, and in general poorly formatted articles are a dead giveaway that it wasn't done properly.

        I guess one must find out why it was removed in the first place – a cache is obviously not a good reference point and the replicated source you've given doesn't qualify as a reliable source. So until we find another source where the same facts are quoted, it would make sense to edit the Wikipedia article to reflect that don't you think?

        Reply

  9. One more instance of jugglery with words:

    Here is what NDTV says (click): "Abhilash was later admitted to the Medical College hospital with his forearm nearly cut off, which was later restored after an operation. at the Medical College Hospital.

    Some of the men, who attacked Abhilash were RSS-BJP workers but police dismissed political motive behind the crime."

    And here is what few other sources say:

    1. "Abhilash was admitted to hospital with his forearm nearly cut off, which was later restored through an operation at the Medical College Hospital. Police dismissed political motive behind the crime." [Yahoo!]

    2. "Abhilash was admitted to hospital with his forearm nearly cut off, which was later restored through an operation at the Medical College Hospital.

    Police dismissed political motive behind the crime." [Rediff]

    3. "Abhilash was admitted to hospital with his forearm nearly cut off, which was later restored through an operation at the Medical College Hospital.

    Police dismissed political motive behind the crime." [Deccan Chronicle]

    4. "Abhilash was admitted to hospital with his forearm nearly cut off, which was later restored through an operation at the Medical College Hospital. Police dismissed political motive behind the crime." [IBN Live]

    Of course, one of the plausible reasons for omission of mention of "RSS-BJP workers" (as if, both are one and the same!) by Yahoo!, Rediff, Deccan Chronicle, IBN Live could be that they are sympathetic towards the BJP-RSS or that the BJP RSS paid them to have those parts omitted.

    But what makes this unlikely is that it is only NDTV that had uploaded the news a day later (7 August), whereas, all others above had done so at least a few hours earlier. Moreover, all of them (including NDTV) credit the Press Trust of India, so I find it reasonable to assume that they all had received the same press release.

    Rest is for you to infer/speculate. Of course, this is another of those one-off incidents, but perhaps, it should not be difficult to understand that jugglery with facts can be done quite fearlessly, provided, one's media corporation is big enough. Moreover, if one keeps on coming up with instances like this, is it appropriate to still dismiss them as one off?

    Lastly, am I permitted to post my responses here? :)

    Reply

    • In reply to Ketan

      You scared me for a minute, Ketan! :-)

      Anyway, as we speak this, CNN-IBN is running a story about how muslims are not getting houses in predominantly Hindu societies.
      He is rporting only one side of the story. If you can understand Malayalam, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQVWzYO78Kc
      Oscar winner Rasool Pookutty is talking about how his wife was denied housing a muslim locality because they thought she was hindu.

      So Bhagwad, what do you think? Why do you think the media is omitting the discrimination that the muslims do? Rajdeep Sardesai was talking about restraint a few days ago, so that a news won't evoke communal passions. He didn't report the pakistani flag at Lal Chowk, Sri Nagar for that reason. But he chose to report a story that will clearly incite passion among muslims.

      Reply

    • In reply to Ketan

      Of course you can post here Ketan! I hope I didn't say anything to make you feel unwelcome….?

      Reply

      • In reply to Bhagwad Jal Park

        No, I asked simply because my comments were going to be too numerous, which would make it appear like pestering. And also because you seem to see the discussion of media's approach to Gujarat riots as irrelevant, whereas I see at as a sentinel example of their bias. Thanks! Will post those comments in next few mins.

        Reply

  10. I.
    Bhagwad,

    Thanks for the heads up and responding to my post! I would not go into the reliability of your friend's testimony. Because you know him personally, and you must have reasons to lay as much faith in his testimony as you deem appropriate.

    While I cannot and must not comment on how much one ought to trust one's friend, I can certainly examine the arguments he and you have made.

    By the way, the crux of my post was that the anti-Hindu bias that is apparent is not actually against Hindus, but is only incidentally so. So the first point does not apply to me, at least. I consider media houses mature enough and profit-driven enough to not be directed by ideological zeal, but most likely, money and other favors. Moreover, I have been very specific in my conspiracy theory that the media works for the Nehru-Gandhi family, and not other politicians of the UPA/Congress. So, even if other ministers are criticized, that might actually serve to strengthen the two Gandhis position within the party.

    You have given four points in rejection of the argument that media can be influenced to the degree I suspect it is influenced, because your basic premise is that meeting so many conditions is very difficult/impossible, as the media and the Nehru Gandhi family would be deterred from trying anything like this. Am I right in understanding you? Let, me present to you two almost exactly parallel situations:

    a. Gujarat riots conspiracy theory:

    a.1 It will have to be a massive conspiracy on an impressive scale covering all the police personnel, Rapid Action Force jawaans, Army personnel, fire fighters, hospital employees (who would maintain the records about injured and conduct autopsy, etc.)
    a.2. It has to be so well concealed that no one gets any proof whatsoever
    a.3. I find it impossible to believe that other well funded parties like the Congress, NCP, BSP would not have exposed such a conspiracy by now if there was any truth in it
    a.4. It means that all constables, sub-inspectors, inspectors, DSP, SP, jawaans, firefighters were involved. Meaning that every single police personnel and paramilitary and military personnel (including, at least 3 to 5% Muslims in these forces) was cruel and without conscience and did not try to defy the diktats of Narendra Modi.

    Now one might point out that Narendra Modi stands exposed, and some police personnel have started singing, etc. I might return to those arguments later, but for the time-being it suffices to say that all the above check points did not deter Narendra Modi from trying to do what he has been alleged to have done.

    Reply

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