Kshetrajna

An attempt to know, understand (and ultimately, transform) that which occurs on the fields of play - India (her politics, media, music) and beyond ...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Don't judge a paper by its name ... "The Hindu"

I have been wanting to do this for long - set up a blog that picks apart and showcases the ideological bias that underpins "news reporting" in "The Hindu". Perhaps this post marks the start of that journey where I collect and showcase examples of bias ...

I grew up with The Hindu through my school days - I used to devour those "Slice of Life" write-ups of Gangadhar, the Friday reviews of Carnatic music and cinema (no, not Carnatic cinema! :)) , the sports section (when I was an avid cricket and tennis fan), the sundry other supplements (science, education) ... and generally had a positive impression of The Hindu as a media establishment.

It was not until much later - the end of the 1990s that I started noticing tinges (then shades and then lashes) of red in its coverage of events.

It's not too difficult to see why the detection of bias wasn't until much later. As a school boy, one's not (Ok, at least I wasn't) really very interested in political events (unless these have a direct impact on school or college prospects - such as school holidays due to the demise of "national leaders" or the reservations issue), so it's not unusual to skip much of the newspaper and head straight for the sports section and the supplements. And, it would take a considerable deal of effort for even diehard reds to indulge in dialectics over cups of filter kaapi, pitch reports or a review of Smt. Karpagambal Sabesan's rendition of "Sriman Narayana" in GK Hall.

The late '90s saw me in the USA for graduate study, and when one is that far away from the homeland, trust me, one gets interested in much more than accounts of filter kaapi and cricket news (the modern version of 'bread and circus', if you will). The politics of the homeland at once becomes vital to your existence and you find yourself analysing late at night why Sunil Chaudhury won over Suneel Choudhri in the recent Mayurpur bye-elections (did I spell that right, or is it buy-elections?), often with a group of five other similarly enthu grad students ...

Thus, with the power of the Internet at my disposal and an increased interest in the political climes of our country, I would scour cyberspace for reports or opinion pieces on the same events across different newspapers. And would typically find The Hindu contorting itself into awkward positions, very far from commonsense - based on an undefined/ill-defined/hazy/nebulous concept it likes to call "secularism", which in India means "the principle to uphold double-standards".

I wrote quite a few letters to The Hindu (during the Sep. 11 attacks on the US, the Gujarat elections) deploring the double-standards and shoddy analysis of the journalists, and unsurprisingly, none of them was published.

I then gave up trying to correct the newspaper, and thought that it might be a better idea to publicise the bias via the internet (I drew inspiration from spindianexpress on the web). After much procrastination, I have finally got down to it via this blog.

Satyameva Jayate!

2 Comments:

  • At 8:17 AM, Anonymous blackpanther said…

    i have long been planning to do the same thing. could never allocate enough time to it. i'm glad you have taken it up. 'the hindu' is called the chennai based chinese national newspaper by sabha.info.

     
  • At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Kowsigan said…

    At the outset, let me commend you on the your spirit and motivation here. I have been reading your posts for quite sometime now. A commitment like this is not easy to keep up with. You have already done this for more than a month now and have been quite regular at it, in the midst of a daily schedule. Hope, you don't feel deflated already !!

    Now, I believe that every newspaper is ideologically biased - be it right, left or center. Probably, well within its rights to do so. But, when free press crosses a certain line, due to overzealousness, selective amnesia or plain sycophancy, publications become rags and journalists become cronies of whichever party, clique or vested interests that they represent.

    That the "Hindu" has a reputation of being a red rag is quite a pervasive opinion amongst the net literate. I think objectivity is becoming a hard sell these days as opposed to sensationalism or plain news dumps.

    I do see some good analysis here. Your train of thought and the underlying rationales are worth reading. I guess the trick is keep one's analysis devoid of personal anguish. Hope and wish you keep that going.

    Regards
    Kowsigan

     

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