Tuesday 18 September 2018

"All is Well" when real newspapers offer everything Except News

Written by Anil Singh

I will be the last person to recommend someone stop reading newspapers.

The reason is simple.

If you stop reading newspapers, irrespective of their language, then what will you read for information?

You can read something online, but that will not solve the problem. Online space is filled with propaganda; and more comments or thumbs up on an article doesn't mean the information is correct.

So the problem of getting information which you can trust is real.

Word/content online is always susceptible to change. But if the newspaper which our hawker delivers us daily, is just a bundle of paper filled with inconsequential, biased reporting and Government advertisements, then there is no use of reading it either.

So the problem of getting information which you can trust is real.

What can be the solution then?

You can see something online, but that may either keep the problem unsolved or the online search can itself become a serious problem, specially when it pushes the user to watching videos or pictures online in an addictive state of mind. Researchers have already started seriously looking at these new age addictions. In their list are also those addictions which many people will never see as addictions. For example, checking out other people's social media time line OR; waiting for the next WhatsApp message.

So the problem of getting useful trustworthy information is real.

We are not getting hold of what is being served to us as news by these information mediums.

For instance, yesterday a prominent Hindi newspaper published a 3 column report (1/6th of a page) about Atal Ayushman Bharat Yojna.

The report told about the launch of the scheme in Uttarakhand on 25th September 2018. It also told tons of other things. Except for one important information which everyone wants to know: What the buyer of the Atal Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme will have to pay as premium (periodic payments made to keep the scheme active). Will you call such a report useful? Actually it seemed advertisement presented as a news report.

Take another example. Amidst all the controversy regarding the Rafael deal, the Indian Air Force Chief makes a press statement informing the people that the Rafael purchase was necessary because of country's security. Does such a statement inform us anything about the corruption questions in the deal? Are people that foolish that they need to be told what a fighter jet is purchased for? Obviously, it is purchased for security reasons. So it is not news, still many prominent newspapers see it as a front page news.

Just pick up the newspaper or website you read. You will find that while name, father's name, street name, locality, village, district etc. are used for people accused of petty crimes such as a Rs. 3000 theft; only the nicknames (titu, vicky etc.) have been used for those accused of serious crimes such as molestation, sexual assault, murder attempt. This is biased reporting.

Some online newspaper's recently published articles such as : 15 quotable quotes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

Is that news?

It takes people years to become quotable. People remember Gandhi's or Baba Amte's quotes, not because they seem wise. But because they have lived their lives in accordance with what they have said. 5 years is a very small time to make and share such quotes.

Now consider these:

How many of us know that there will be no NOTA button in the electronic voting machines(EVMs) in the upcoming assembly and Lok Sabha elections?

How many of us know that in the recently concluded Delhi University Students' Union Elections (DUSU) about half a dozen EVMs were found faulty on the day of counting?

How many of us know the real reasons for demonetization, bank mergers or any such news?

How many of us know that LIC has purchased (or is in the process of) the IDBI bank (one of the banks with the highest debts, in Hindi, Udhar)?

Which newspapers asked the CM or PM (Because the Centre is responsible for giving funds to the state) this question: If the Government seriously wants to help Uttarakhand hills, then why is it closing the Government schools in hills and decreasing subsidized RTE school admissions in entire state?

The schools in remote hill areas are NOT an exercise of teacher-student ratio. These schools are opened because it is the state's duty to ensure that every child gets education.

If we know very little about these, then we are not reading news because they are the real NEWS.

But I think we are not understanding that and wasting our time on useless propaganda consumption.

But we are not to blame. What we are being served as news is not news at all. It is plain propaganda. Sadly, we are being taken for granted.


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