How to deal with mainstream media bias – Ashok Chowgule

The news with a nose!

Ashok Chowgule“The people at large have an instinct that the English mainstream media were being economical with the truth, but they do not always know the exact truth or able to articulate their thoughts. The social media has given them an opportunity to directly access the views of those members of the Right of Centre who have the aptitude to write in a lucid manner.” – Ashok Chowgule 

Indian English-language NewspapersIt is the considered opinion of those to the right of centre (RofC) – the full spectrum from just to the right to what is called the loony fringe – that the mainstream media, particularly the English variety (E-MSM), makes a deliberate attempt to pervert the issues that are dear to them.  Of course, there is no unanimity amongst the RofC regarding all the issues.  Some in the just to the right of the centre may think that the projection of the loony elements is justified.  This note will, however, deal with the broader point, as will become clear as you read along. 

I will be dealing with three situations: 

  1. What the E-MSM is saying is correct;
  2. What the E-MSM is incorrect, but it is an honest mistake on their part;
  3. What the E-MSM is incorrect, but they are projecting the lie deliberately. 

The E-MSM may well be considering that the way they have presented the issues are not perversion.  There may be a genuine case to be made for the presentation.  If correct, then those in the RofC need to introspect and take the corrective actions.  Making mistakes is not something that one should be ashamed of.  However, the members in the RofC do not view the presentation of most of the issues concerning the RofC as correct – if they did then there is no need for this note. 

If the E-MSM is incorrect, is it an honest mistake on their part?  I would like to propose that the E-MSM should have themselves done due diligence on the issue and not wait for the RofC organisations to come to them.  After all the E-MSM claims that they are unbiased and also that they are professional.  I think it is fair to say that in nearly all the cases, the necessary due diligence has not been done. 

For example, in the case of the attacks on Christian churches in Delhi.  It was projected that the only places of worship that were attacked were the churches, and that this happened only after the coming of the NDA government in power.  The data provided by the Delhi police showed that the churches were attacked in the past, and that there is no increase today.  At the same time, the data also showed that other places of worship, including the Hindu temples, were also attacked.  And there was no communal bias in the number of attacks.  Thus to give these attacks a communal angle, as the E-MSM has done, is clearly a mischief.  

Prof Amartya SenHad the necessary due diligence been done, then the situation would not have arisen.  Similar lack of due diligence could be seen in the case of Prof Amartya Sen when he submitted his resignation from the post of Chancellor of Nalanda University, alleging that there is government interference in the academic area of the university. He did not provide any specific example, except to say that there is what he considered an inordinate delay of one month on part of the present government to accept the decision of the board of mentors (or some such) to renew his appointment by another term.  The government informed that they can act only when the approved minutes are submitted, and this has not yet been done. 

It should be stated that wherever Prof Sen was given an opportunity in the E-MSM to explain his case, he used it to vent out his political agenda against the present government, and the subject of Nalanda University was in the background. The interviewers, both in the print and the electronic media, encouraged him to do so, given the questions that they posed to him. 

Everyone in the E-MSM, in supporting Prof Sen, pretended to be unaware of the various wrong-doings that were pointed out by various people in the past, even during the UPA government. No one mentioned that the manner in which the establishment of the Nalanda University was happening did not seem to be proper, and that there were officials in the UPA government who had pointed it out.  In fact, one member of the E-MSM, Mihir Sharma of Business Standard, tweeted that the only wrong doing that the Internet Hindus were circulating was a letter from the previous president, Abdul Kalam.  He wanted to give an impression that the letter dealt with a minor issue, and not that it was seriously damning.  And if he did not know the many other instances of wrong-doings, then clearly he does not have the necessary professionalism to be in his present job as a journalist. 

However, the social media, where the Internet Hindus are very active, ensured that the previous incidents were not allowed to be forgotten.  And soon, the E-MSM found that the shots that they were firing at the present government using the shoulder of Prof Sen were missing the target by a wide margin. At the same time, they could not admit that they were making a mistake in attacking the government on the issue of Prof Sen.  So, their present strategy is to pretend that the controversy that they tried to create does not exist – but the Internet Hindus will not allow them to forget. 

Leela SamsonLet me give another specific instance of the beeping out the word Bombay by the censor board in India.  This came to the notice of the E-MSM recently, and it used the incident to project the alleged intolerance of the present government towards freedom of speech, etc.  As in the past, without doing any due diligence the E-MSM also went ballistic in the attack on the present government.  After a few days it transpired that this happened during the reign of the previous chairman of the censor board, Leela Samson, who was appointed by the UPA government.  Yet another shoulder used turned out to be useless. 

But Barkha Dutt of NDTV tweets asking the Congress party leaders to speak up now that the truth is known.  However, she is silent on the role of her colleagues in journalism who used the incident to attack the present government. She wants to just forget that the controversy created by the E-MSM exists. 

Now I will deal with the angst that many in the E-MSM express that the present government seems to be making no effort in countering the lies. Those in the RofC should recognise the role of the social media where the lies are countered. This has forced some in the E-MSM to give space to articles by those in the RofC which have countered the lies – although they are probably 10% of the articles that project the lies. Also, many of the editorials on the subject are also on the basis of these lies. 

A larger question is whether a biased E-MSM would give sufficient space to the truth that the government would like to project. The answer has to be no, since it would mean that the members of the E-MSM are exposing themselves of a charge of deliberately lying. The government view does not appear in the E-MSM, but dominates the social media.

The issue then becomes why is the E-MSM on a programme of perverting the issues of the RofC organisations. If what I have said above is correct, it is clear that they have a political agenda and not journalistic considerations. The members of the E-MSM are using the medium that they dominate to deliberately poison the minds of the people against the RofC. This is what the members of the RofC have to highlight, and also The Paid News of Indiastrongly state that the agenda of the E-MSM is causing serious damage to the people of the nation. 

Those in the RofC should stop blaming their organisations for not ‘educating’ the E-MSM, since the latter has a political agenda and do not wish to be ‘educated’. Instead they should expose the lack of the professionalism in the E-MSM. For this purpose it is necessary to take the name of the media outlets that are undertaking the perversion, and, more importantly, the person concerned. The strategy should be name and shame. 

The RofC should also point out to the members of the E-MSM that their incomes are coming from the resources provided by the society. In case of the news outlet it is indirectly through the advertisement and subscription income, and in case of those in the academia it is directly from the funds provided either as private donation or support from the government. Their loyalty should therefore be to the society and not to their ideology. 

It is, of course, perfectly legitimate for the members of the E-MSM to have an agenda.  The medium that they should then use to propagate their views should not be ones that are supported by the general public, but those which are supported by members of the ideology. These are called mouth-pieces, and not an unbiased journal. Such mouth-pieces have a legitimate place in democracy, since it would give an opportunity to the person wanting to know the views of the members of a particular organisation a convenient source to access. 

However, if a supposedly unbiased medium is used to propagate an ideology, and the people at large do not know that it is a mouth-piece, then there is a problem and confusion is created.  Sometimes, a member of an ideology is invited to present his organisation’s view in an avowedly unbiased journal. In such cases, the identity of the member and his organisation is clearly stated. The problem arises when an employee of the journal projects an ideology. It is not sufficient to say at the end of the article that the views expressed are that of the person, because this disclaimer does not come with the identification of the ideology of the writer. 

Media BiasThose in the RofC should understand that the exercise of perversion by the E-MSM is not an innocent act, but one that has a motive of deliberate deceit. Only then will we be able to make our response in a manner that would make sense to the reader. I would also like those in the RofC to stop blaming members of the left of centre political parties, whose views are given large space by the E-MSM for their own agenda of the latter, and not because the latter believe them to be true. Even if the political parties, opposed to the RofC, did not express those views, the E-MSM would get someone else to project them. 

The RofC should also be aware that the social media has been a great tool for them to take their view-point directly to the people. Because the people at large have been largely in tune with their thinking, the RofC has found an already fertile ground for their thoughts.  The people at large have an instinct that the E-MSM were being economical with the truth, but they do not always know the exact truth or able to articulate their thoughts. The social media has given them an opportunity to directly access the views of those members of the RofC who have the aptitude to write in a lucid manner. 

So, in summary, my suggestion to the members of the RofC is as follows: 

  1. Understand that the members of the E-MSM have an agenda, where truth is of no concern;
  2. Stop criticising the RofC organisations for apparently not responding, because their responses will not get space in the E-MSM;
  3. Name and shame the members of the E-MSM for telling lies;
  4. Tell the people at large that the members of the E-MSM are able to maintain their lifestyle because of the society support and that their loyalty is to the society;
  5. Use the power of Internet. 

The battle for truth is not in the arena of electoral politics, but in the arena of the society. – Hindu Vivek Kendra, March 2, 2015

 » Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the VHP.  

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  6. The Roti Fiasco: How the media communalised a non-issue – Ashok Chowgule
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6 Responses

  1. The problem is twofold; the absence of the Hindutva voice in the english dailies and other in prime time english news channels. As the admin. pointed out earlier no Hindu billionaire has come out to support a true Hindutva news channel or daily. In my opinion among the EDs perhaps The New Indian Express(TNIE) is the most H friendly. So more of the talented writers whose articles appear in BB should send their articles to TNIE and hopefully many of them would appear in it so that TNIE can counter the anti H views propagated by the hopelessly anti H papers like THE HINDU ( as long as N.Ram is controlling it one can’t expect any change). Prime time E news channel is a must to balance out the anti H propaganda; from the “holier than thou” condescending smile of Barkha Dutt to the fake impartiality of the gravel-voiced Karen Thapar that rule the waves. Until then we will have to put up with the nonsense masquerading as balanced journalism.

  2. Newspaper readers and internet surfers are two different audiences. The internet does not really counter the biased content in the mainstream media. Virtual copy does not have the credibility of hard copy even if the virtual copy is factually correct.

    Here is an aside:

    On Dec. 7, 1992 this observer was sitting with Sita Ram Goel and a number of Hindu leaders in the New Delhi drawing room of a leading Hindu industrialist. Everybody present was bewailing the bad press Hindus were getting for bringing down the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya the day before. After much hemming and hawing, it was resolved that Hindu businessmen and Hindu intellectuals would come together to create a premium national newspaper to counter the bias of The Hindu, The Times of India, The Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle, and other broadsheets of their ilk. Arun Shourie was to be the editor.

    But till today nothing has happened. There is still no premium national Hindu newspaper. Hindu intellectuals have resorted to the internet with its limited audience and limited reliability and Hindu moneybags have kept their hands deep in their pockets.

    So who is to blame for this sad circumstance? If Hindu leaders cannot produce a national newspaper, they can hardly blame the other side for taking advantage of their laziness and indifference.

    There is also the issue of FDI in the mainstream media.

    It is said that Shushma Swaraj allowed FDI in the media when she was a minister in the Vajpayee government.

    FDI is allowed up to 26% in news and current affairs media, while 100% FDI is allowed in non-news media like a trade publication and general entertainment channel.

    Now I&B Minister Javadekar wants to allow 100% FDI in the media.

    Prime Minister Modi must reverse this trend and severely limit the amount of FDI allowed in the Indian media.

    The man who pays the piper calls the tune.

    Doesn’t Javadekar know this? Are BJP political leaders really so astonishingly naive?

  3. MSM a different story.
    Rape, rhetoric and reality
    RUKMINI S.

    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-article-rape-rhetoric-and-reality/article6705077.ece

    Another story

    http://www.more.com/news/india-rape-capital-world

    From the above

    Is India the Rape Capital of the World?

    We’re horrified by news reports of rape in India and feel lucky we don’t live there. But the country with the highest rate of sexual assault isn’t India—it’s us.

    Oh, but you think, women who’ve been sexually assaulted in America are better treated. Rape victims in India, especially in rural villages, are often subject to shaming and considered unfit for marriage. But meanwhile, in Steubenville, Ohio, two young men who were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl too intoxicated to consent continue to be defended as upstanding football players while the reputation of the young woman is smeared. When the verdict was announced, a CNN reporter came close to portraying the rapists as passive victims: “These two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart.” Other media coverage seemed equally sympathetic to the perpetrators.

    Leslie Udwin and BBC should interview the two men from Ohio.

  4. “Journalists have a vested interest in ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw

  5. The battle of the media and propaganda, may be the most central battle of our world.

    But there is a bit of contradiction in suggesting the use of the ‘power of Internet’ to combat the ‘MSM – Main Stream Media’ … in that ‘checking on the internet’ involves sending people to be entrapped by the worst, most devious Main Stream Media of all –

    The CIA’s Google Inc, deviously manipulating & censoring internet searches, and its partner, the CIA’s Wikipedia … Actually run by an ex-pornographer, Jimmy Wales, who was selected to pose as ‘Wikimedia founder’ specifically because of his lack of ethics & willingness to publish any lie for his masters.

    When they want to bash Hindus, they have instant tools to make anti-Hindu lies dominant on the internet … and CIA-backed Wikipedia administrators who will block & delete Hindu & Indian writers from correcting lies & falsehoods, whenever that is their agenda.

    In the EU, the European Commission and police and prosecutors are now attempting to deal with these corrupt monopolies which are seen as engaged in fraud and attacks upon EU citizens and companies.

    Everyone should realise that if you link to Wikipedia, what you link to can be changed a few minutes later to some disgusting lie, given that Wikipedia is run by the CIA and US regime serving US dominant political families.

    EU police files describe Google as doing 5 levels of CIA internet control, in some cases for political / war-making etc, in some cases to benefit US corporate etc interests:

    1 – CIA-Google promoting CIA-preferred sites, down-placing or even totally censoring others
    2 – CIA-Wikipedia
    3 – Clones of CIA-Wikipedia, e.g., Israel’s Answers-com etc … Google normally erases duplicates of most sites from search results, but pumps CIA-Wikipedia duplicates to make sure Wiki-CIA lies are dominant
    4 – CIA-tied corporate media, the ‘MSM’
    5 – Fake ‘alternative dissident’ news sites, the ‘limited hang-outs’ & ‘controlled opposition’

    Any actual truth, is thus often pushed by Google to six levels below the top, if not erased altogether.

    EU police dossier excerpts on Google & Wikipedia can be seen here:

    CIA Wikipedia-Google fraud EU police report
    http://homment.com/FB3PjBQ2DF

    EU Prosecutor, Commissioner Report: US gov – Google criminal activity
    http://homment.com/KX2aq39gWu

    • Brabantian, your position is extreme and your claims are unverifiable.

      That said, it is true that Wikipedia is a disaster. Much of its content aside from basic information is manipulated or invented to serve the Western interest. It cannot be trusted to give neutral, factual information.

      Many of the India pages and all of the Christianity in India pages are controlled by a gang of Christian editors whose leader operates out of Bangalore.

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