Thursday, February 2, 2023

Media Watch

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The Noose Today

Indian television news channels are going global, but not in a good way. An American journalist put up a video on Twit­ter of a guest being ha­rang­ued by a finger-wagging television anchor, Dee­pak Chaurasia of News Nation, with the comment: “Getting quite addicted to Indian television news, Fox News is so tame in comparison.” Fox News is the popular US broadcaster accused of bias in favour of the Re­p­ub­lican Party and ultra-conservative causes, while using toxic propaganda to trash the Democratic Party.

While many Indian cha­nnels, including News Na­tion, adopt the same editorial approach regarding Narendra Modi, the Twitter exchange on the Chaura­sia video clip was hilarious and embarrassing. The BBC’s Ste­phen Sackur known for his aggressive style of interviews on his programme Hard Talk, tweeted: “I watched this and realised I’d been do­ing BBC Hard Talk all wrong.” Chaurasia, incidentally, had been cha­sed away from Shaheen Bagh when he went there to cover the protests.

Stone the Student

Footage of the events earlier this month when Delhi police stormed the Jamia Millia University library have gone viral again, but some misconceptions and biased or wrong reporting have also come to light. On that night, India Today television aired footage under a huge “Exclusive” banner which showed the police raid. The footage, from a CCTV video, was handed over to the channel by the Special Investigation Team of Delhi police and was used to claim that students entered the library with stones in their hands. Other news organisations carried the same clip which showed a student with flat objects in each hand.

The fact-checking website Alt News has now shown the same clip in a higher resolution using special slow motion technology. It shows that the student was holding a wallet in one hand and a mobile phone in the other.

Viewed at normal speed and in the version given to channels by the SIT, it was easy to buy the Delhi police line that the student was armed with stones. Techno­logy can hide the truth and show it too.

The Punjab Phenomena

The latest Indian Readership Sur­vey (IRS) figures show Punjab’s dominance in the north Indian market in terms of newspaper growth and, consequently, advertising. The difference is that the advertising in the Punjab press ranges from low-end products to high-end fashion and luxury products. Moreover, what continues to drive growth is that the readership covers English, Hindi and Punjabi. The Tribune is for English readers, Punjab Kesari or Dainik Bhaskar for Hindi rea­ders and Ajit and Jagwani for Punjabi readers. Here’s what makes it so attractive for advertisers—according to the Na­tional Family Health Survey, residents of Delhi and Punjab are the richest in India. While Punjab-based manufacturers—from bicycles to tractors, sports goods, agricultural machinery and yarn—advertise regularly in local newspapers, thanks to the large number of high net worth individuals in cities like Ludhiana and Chandigarh and general affluence and rising aspirations, they are equally matched by makers of luxury products from cars, jewellery and branded apparel. No wonder, the press in Punjab elicits such envy from their bigger national counterparts.

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