Category Archives: Media

Is the water real?

In a town, there stood a dam. For more than twenty years, the dam just stood there, and no water came downstream. Suddenly one day, a bucket of water flowed downstream, as if shouting, “I came from the dam! I came from the dam!”

The first passerby looked at it and said with utter surprise: “We have known that dam for a long time, we didn’t know there was water behind that dam.”

Another one with better memory mentioned that indeed there had been some talk about water behind the dam about ten twelve years prior also, but the matter had not been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

A few days later, a couple of more buckets of water streamed. More cries of “there is water in the dam” were heard.

The first passerby remained unconvinced. “How is it possible that there has been water behind that dam for such a long time, and it has never said anything, never shown up, never mentioned it to anyone else? Clearly, this water must not be from the dam but just a conspiracy to malign the dam. Anyone with half a brain can see that.”

In the few days that followed, a few more buckets of water streamed in. Buckets told of how they had been behind that dam for so many years. It took courage to come out of it. After all, it had been a very sound dam, well respected by all. Some buckets were really unsure. Perhaps it was their own fault after all that they were behind the dam to begin with. How did they get there? Surely, they must have gone there of their own accord. Was it even dam’s fault?

The first passerby remarked, even if at the risk of sounding repetitious that it makes no sense for so many buckets to have not said anything for so many years. Putting his legal background and training to good use, he added the phrases such as “in the strongest possible terms” and warned against repeating the story of the water, which he called “an outrageous defamatory lie.”

Another passersby also commented: “Well, that is how dams are. There is water behind them. We cannot say any crime has been committed, if the water went there by itself. The buckets of water have not said that they were unlawfully detained. Surely, they could have come out sooner. There is no point in coming downstream so many years later and then blaming the dam for it.”

Yet another passerby questioned if there was a schedule that the buckets were following just to get media attention and if it had now become fashionable to say that yes, we too were behind that famous dam. The buckets’ response remained only that they had long ago moved on from the dam, but having heard the story of other buckets that came down the dam, it gave them courage to do so as well.

The people of the town have been hearing that argument for many days and many weeks now. They deserve to know now. Is the water real?

Why NY Times is seen as an amazingly stupid newspaper…

You need to see no further than this opinion piece to see where NYT gets the reputation of being such an amazingly stupid newspaper. Really, NYT? This is the best piece that you can write about a space mission to Mars? Continue doling out such amazing drivel please – the National Enquirer was starting to feel a bit lonely.

Among mainstream media, NYT still has some respect, but this is not a complement to NYT. Rather this is the knockout punch for mainstream media.

On state of journalism in India

Recently, Mr. Markandey Katju, head of the Press Council of India (and former Supreme Court justice) passed rather severe judgment on the state of journalism in India.   To begin, I think his comments are welcome in bringing attention to the quality of media (of which I am often a harsh critic, although my criticism is not limited to any geographical boundaries).

But more importantly, he may have overlooked that everything works together.  While Mr. Katju may be right in expressing that the education and the “well-read” level of the media people may be less than their colleagues in other nations, but then again, that might be the case of the nation as a whole (depending upon which country you compare India to).  As the country itself becomes more educated and “well-read”, so would the media.  It is doubtful that a very educated nation would give its attention to media folks who are not well-read or up to speed on the various perspectives.  There is a strong competition in the media market in India, and ultimately, that is what will lead to improved “level” (however that may be defined) of the media, than Mr. Katju and the Press Council of India.

It may seem that Katju could have picked a more productive way of making a change by picking a specific issue (such as “Paid News”) than by criticizing an industry as a whole.

When did Ron Paul acquire the Invisibility Potion?

I have been talking about the duplicity of media for way too long – media only covers stories that make “good stories” – we have to find our own news, so we can form our own views.

Best quote:

If all of Huntsman’s supporters met at the same Ames Quiznos, the fire marshal would say: (dramatic pause)
Yeah, that’s fine, no problem. We have some tables open in the back.

Commonwealth Games 2010 – New Delhi

Ok, finally the Commonwealth Games 2010 are on the way in New Delhi.  This is the first time India is hosting an event of this magnitude since the Asian Games of 1982.  The media frenzy that preceded the event notwithstanding, the opening ceremony seems to have gone very well and the first videos on Youtube have started appearing.

CWG 2010 DelhiI feel bad to have missed the opening ceremony, but as far as I was able to read, the conch shells from India, the Tibetan ‘Dung Chen’s and various other musical instruments have left a great impression on the people who witnessed it.

So, what do we make of all the media hoopla leading up to the event?  There is a strange case of media bias.  Many of the atomic complaints that the media highlights were all true – things lagged, schedules slipped, etc, and the problem isn’t really in reporting that – that is what the media is here for.  The bias starts becoming apparent however, when the next day, the same exact information is repeated as “news” with the only addition being perhaps of a quote from one other person.  So, the feeling is that the news agencies have to keep a focus on the chaos that existed before.  Having found nothing today, they need to keep stretching the ghosts of yesterday. And if some day turned out to be good, the media simply doesn’t have to report it, turning its attention to other important matters of the universe.  This is all subjective however, and if it weren’t for a very repetitive pattern, it would really be fine.

CNN takes a different take.  It begins with the very neutral headline: Commonwealth Games begin in India “amid security”.  One might ask, as opposed to what?  Did CNN expect a free movement of people across the parliament, the presidents house and the capital with no security in place.  Did the Olympics begin in Beijing (or even in pre-911 Atlanta) without security?  Which part of the title is the news?

And then, don’t even get me started on the BBC.  I stopped being its reader back when BBC stopped being anti-India covertly (and became overtly anti-Indian).  Incidentally – on that note – BBC still hasn’t found any further details on the “gunmen” of 26-11, although it continues to end every piece on India with the standard 3-sentence paragraph about the 3 wars with India’s western neighbor.  That’s really great for about two kinds of readers – those who have in coma for about 64 years, and those who want to have 3 sentences for every country so they can get on the big boss or some other reality show.  It meets BBC’s agenda of always hyphenating India so that it doesn’t challenge UK’s rightful place (as what, I don’t really know).  [I routinely get some emails from UK readers – something like “Please stop equating BBC with UK!” – and I always tell them the same thing – “I cannot distinguish, because the BBC is established under a Royal Charter and operates under its Agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. BBC is actually funded by UK households, it isn’t just a UK based company.”]

Anyway, back to the games, the medals tally can be found here: CWG 2010 Medalls Tally.

Facts and Information

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Mark Twain

Every day some or other news comes about that says “Car sales highest in one year!”, “Unemployment at lowest point in 36 years!”.  And this, and that!  For one thing, almost all of those facts are true. For second, they are also ridiculous misrepresentations.  (Unless of course you happen to be reading National Enquirer, in which they are all false but serious representations.)

This doesn’t happen just in the media and news (although, media has the first right to blame due to its power).  I came across a recommendation about a candidate: “One of my top 25% students in last 16 years.”  So does that mean you had to go back 16 years so that he would squeeze into the 25%?  Was he not the top 25% of students this past year?

Rum Raisin

Mumbai seige – 18 months after

18 months after the Mumbai seige, it is time to review how badly 2 news media reported it.

  • BBC: Mumbai attacks will be go down in history as one of the worst reporting achievements of Biased Broadcasting Corporation.  It lead to some unbelievably crass reporting by BBC, where in it chose to report the terrorists as gunmen, and chose to entirely deny the fact that the Jewish center had been chosen by design.  Starting from the very first report, it chose to represent India as a country in general chaos with a “history of unrest”, which should somehow justify the attacks there, so that the rest of us living in the “civilized west” can go on with our lives undeterred by this “local Indian problem”, which at least as BBC chose to believe, is not related to “terrorism”.  British parliamentarian Stephen Pound referred to the BBC’s whitewashing of the terror attacks as “the worst sort of mealy mouthed posturing. It is desperation to avoid causing offence which ultimately causes more offence to everyone.”
  • New York Times: As the Wall Street Journal puts it:

“Meanwhile — perhaps even more disgracefully — a New York Times report on the last day of the siege stated: ‘It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene.’  Has the New York Times learned anything since the Holocaust, when, even after the war ended in the spring of 1945, the paper infamously refused to report that the Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Germans and so on killed in the camps had been Jews, and killed as Jews?”

Lack of Fairness in News Media

From calling killers “terrorists” in London, and “gunmen” in Mumbai (British Biased Corporation), to something as simple as a recent news story on AFP: India restaurant bombing toll ‘rises to 12’ (note the quotes), lack of fairness exists at many levels in news media.

Here is how the story extends:

“The death toll from a blast that ripped through a packed restaurant last weekend in western India, which was claimed by a previously unknown Islamist group has risen to 12, a report said Saturday.”

A little later it says: “The latest fatality was a 26-year-old Sudanese student, Amjad Elgazoli, who was studying at college in Pune…”

So, my question – what part of the title made the editor so nervous that he had to put the toll in quotes? What part of the news report was debatable or not solemn enough to justify adding some quotes?

Give Justice a Chance

It has become commonplace in Indian politics for media to question the minister after the court gives out a verdict. As an example, when Moninder Pandher got acquitted in the infamous Nithari serial killing cases, the media was all over the Indian Union minister for women and child development, Krishna Tirath.

This is not the most conducive way to further the separation of executive and judiciary. The media in this case wants to see if the minister can do anything to further the prosecution’s angle since the judiciary had decided to acquit the charged individual. If the minister were indeed to try that, should not the same media classify the actions as interference in justice and political vindication?

If, say hypothetically, the charged had been found guilty, and the minister interfered with that, would the media and the public find it acceptable?

The minister’s reaction “What can I say when the CBI is investigating the matter”, is fairly acceptable even if a bit ineloquent, since both CBI and the judge can (and should) hold the minister in contempt if minister does make a significant statement.