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Media Maniac: Coverage of Pulwama and Balakot

— Written By
Prof. Charu Lata Singh
Dean, Vivekananda School of Journalism and Mass CommunicationVIPS

Media : the fourth pillar of democracy, that too of the largest democracy of the world needs to act andbehave with maturity. It should be voice of the people rather than the voice of few .The recent national events put people’s trust in media at stake.Media could be seen becoming the mouthpiece of ideological debates or nationalistic and anti-national debates and taking sides. on one side, the media tried to project armed forces at a higher pedestal but alsocatered to the doubts raised by some of the parties and dwindled. The coverage by internationalmedia lead Indian media to imitate their language.

Today, New York Times has termed the terrorist attack in New Zealand’s Christchurch Mosque as acase of shooting. Where 49 people are reported killed. It shows a clear racial bias when the shooteris a white man. If we still believe and trust their coverage more than ours is a sheer pity. Suchcoverage in reality should right away be rejected and discarded. The foreign media seems far awayfrom real Indian context of understanding and give their own versions , views and coverages.If the coverage of Pulwama and Balakot surgical strikes is studied, it show a striking divergence in English media V/S Hindi Media and International media . It is evident through the headlines they gave:

  • On Pulwama attack English New papers wrote : India Bombs Jaish Camp in Pakistan’s Balakot Choose Wisely (The Telegraph)
  • Terror Attacked (HT) Hindi news papers wrote: Pulwama ka hisab Pura (Dainik Jagran)
  • Pakistan main Ghus kar Mara(Rajasthan Patrika)
  • On surgical strikes in Balakot , the English media mentioned : ‘Just Downed, Tension Up’, (HT)
  • ‘Tension in the Air’ (TOI)
  • Pray for saner counsel (Telegraph)
  • IAF plane shot down. Pilot takencaptive by Pak army’ (The Hindu)
  • Hindi Newspapers mention as: Pak Par our badi karyavahi ke Sanket (Dainik Jagran)
  • HamlawarPak ko Karara Jawab (Hindustan)
  • Napak rade se ghuse Pakistani ef -16 ko udaya (Amar Ujala)

This clearly shows the divide or the gap , the way ‘English, Urban, Highly Educated few think’ andhow ‘Hindi, rural-urban and fairly educated Masses’ think. The respective first segment of societythough much aware of agenda tactics and diplomatic moves of west fall prey to their moves andmove away from reality. As against this the masses , the majority get swayed and carried away inemotions praising the dare moves of political leadership and armed forces to for options.

Further, it was sad to see some of the trusted news papers referring to terrorists as “Kashmiri youth”. Question is not whether the youth was Kashmiri /Indian or Pakistani. Once youbecome ‘Fidayeen’ you are a terrorist, because no sane youth of any origin or religion would go to that extent in right senses. 

Media was also seen praising Pakistan for its sanity right on the lines offoreign media and completely forgetting its insanity for waging proxy war against India for so long.Somewhere it raises the concern that still we do not believe in ourselves. We do not trust the wordsof our armed forces but get dominated by the views put out by foreign media. On the one hand wesay that the flows of information and coverage of global south by the global north is biased,unidirectional and vertical , as raised by Maulana Mosmoudi, which became the voice for NWICO(New World Information and Communication Order) in yesteryears and had lead to the formationof Mac Bride Commission.

Still on other, even after technological developments anddemocratisation of media, we remain embedded in the coverages showered by the western world.Little realising that the world media works on sinister plans and agendas for diplomatic moves bythe states. We succumb to their tactics in the name of rationality, objectivity and transparency.Media must remember that it is their free, independent and investigative voice which have held thetrust of people over the years and that is the only key to keep those voices intact. The media needsto mirror the the right contexts and generate right perspectives. Media is also not about favouringor being against, it is about public interest. Public interest lies in nationalistic environments. In suchtimes of war like situations media needs to responsible and employ restraint. What it shouldremember is , it is not always a grabbing of eyeballs or fight for TRPs but about humanity andpublic interest. Journalism should not be reduced to propaganda.

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