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Changing Headlines to Change the Message

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On 30 April, I noticed a link on a friend’s timeline which was headlined “Meet Balakrishna, the 43-year old Patanjali CEO who doesn’t take salary” (See screenshot below).

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I clicked the link to check the story. It was a positive story about achievements of Acharya Balkrishna, Baba Ramdev’s right-hand man and Patanjali CEO. The story mentions how Patanjali Ayurved, a rather new entrant to the FMCG sector has beaten multinationals in their own game and has become a ₹5000 Crore company already in just ten years. It also talks about how Patanjali products have changed customer’s perception that Indian products are inferior to international brands. The story also mentions how Balkrishna who works 15 hours a day and holds 94% stake in the company, doesn’t take a single paisa as salary.

I liked the story and decided to share it on my timeline. But to my surprise, the link that appeared on my timeline displayed a different headline now. It was now changed to “The man who owns 94% of Patanjali Ayurved” (see screenshot below).

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I realised what had happened in the interim period. The first headline was obviously given by a junior sub-editor. But soon, a senior editor saw it, didn’t like the positive message that was going out about Patanjali, and got it changed.

Technically, there was no falsehood in the changed headline. But the change was done with a malafide intention.

While the first headline conveyed the message that the self-motivated Balkrishna is taking zero salary in an era in which CEOs of big firms are drawing crores, the changed headline hides this fact and subtly conveys the impression that it’s not the customer who is benefitting from entry of this new player, but it’s Balkrishna who is benefitting the most from the growth in Patanjali’s business.

This shows how the mainstream media uses every tool, every resource at their command to portray a negative picture of those who are working hard to build Brand India.

But let the message go out loud and clear, that they won’t succeed in their crooked game. We shall flag them every time they commit a foul.

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