The curious case of misleading headlines & how to spare the propaganda
When I was younger, my grandfather went through an eye surgery. He was asked to refrain from reading anything that would force too much pressure on his eyes. So, I used to read the newspaper to him. I used to read aloud the headlines on every page and my Dadaji would then ask me to go through selected articles of his choice after having filtered them by their headlines. It was a happy time for both of us.
Now think. In the present times can we judge an article only by its headline? The state of media has changed from being the 4th pillar of democracy to a bunch of prestitutes serving their masters. Be it extreme left leaning NDTV, India Today, The Print or The Scroll or the right wingers like Zee News, India TV and ABP News, each one of them carries propaganda more than simple unbiased news. In an ideal case, both the wings would enjoy healthy criticism of each other’s policies and work. However, the media today is embarrassingly biased and sets record lower level of unethical reporting every day. Be it the electronic or print media, unless you are watching DD News, you are probably being served shit in the form of political propaganda, so beware what you see and how you form an opinion. I acknowledge the fact that simple advertisements and funding may not be enough to run a news platform independently, so support from political parties might be needed. But, by indulging into prestitution and serving as mouthpieces for political parties, is the step justified?
A few months ago, a poll by Thomas Reuters caught my attention. The survey ranked India the most dangerous nation in the world and even Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Arabs and Somalia scored better. After reading the article, I found that Thomas Reuters asked just 548 unnamed experts out of which only 43 were from India to conclude that India is the worst country for women. The bias in this study is obvious as this is not how you would form an opinion of a complex country like India.
A friend of mine shared this article based only on the headlines and felt bad for not really reading it when I confronted her.
You will come across 100s of articles every day that fool people into forming an opinion just based on the headlines. It is your responsibility as an aware and responsible citizen of this country to check out the content before believing it.
So, what to do the next time you read an intriguing headline? Open the article and look for Names, Numbers and Sources to decode the message in the article.
Read this tweet, it says a Godman probably a Hindu Guru as obvious from the image indulged into unnatural sex crime. You probably have declared it the act of another criminal Baba but wait. Open the article and look for names and you will find it is a Muslim man! Picture of a Swamy just reveals the underlying propaganda.
Similarly look at this article by The Wire that says Students and Opposition oppose the idea of ‘Surgical Strike Day’. Dig deeper and look for names – you will find that it is the Congress party, its Student wing, Kapil Sibbal, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia that have that opposed the idea. So can you say that all students oppose the idea of ‘surgical strike day’? No! The heading tries to fool you into thinking that Centre’s step has not gone down well with the students of the country, but the article mentions only the opposition and universities that have been in the limelight for wrong reasons.
Do let me know if these simple methods help you separate the crap from the real news. Read, explore and educate!
That is all from my side. Thank you for your time.