Thursday, October 13, 2016

Examining media bias : Press conference in Delhi : video vs article
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Press Conference, video uploaded 9 Oct 2016

An article on the same press conference:
There is no LG vs CM, Jung in tussle with Delhiites: Kejriwal - Hindu, 9 Oct 2016

>> 20-minute homework for readers : Watch the video fully (18 mins), and then read the article in full (it's very small so will just take a minute). The journalist was reporting on the same thing you just watched. Do you think s/he might have left out anything important? 

Like.. say, how people's salaries are getting blocked, or the fact mentioned (and worthy of proper fact-check) that hon'ble LG earlier had always received a copy of every decision being made but had never conveyed any difference of opinion back then, but now after the HC verdict declaring him as final authority, has suddenly announced that everything needs to be reviewed and can be cancelled retrospectively : a move which endangers vast amounts of public investment, public services, salaries paid to people, compensations paid to farmers? What about the concern shared that the ministers cannot work with officers if they can be suddenly transferred/dismissed the next day without any prior notice by the LG, without any discussion or consultation whatsoever with people's elected representatives, and that this has been happening increasingly in Delhi, including the dismissal of the officer in charge of Mohalla Clinics?

Any mention of these little details? Are they really so trivial? Is it ok to report that this press conference happened but not mention what it actually was about? Is it an example of good journalism to abstract out all the details and report only the rhetorical parts?

Are this and other media organizations doing the right thing by not providing any link to primary source, like a video feed (which is publicly available on youtube, no technical effort required on your part in sharing!), and not providing any transcript of the press conference that they attend? In print they may not have enough space (can use short URLs!), but how about in online articles where there are no technical constraints and which they can edit and add the links to later? 

Are the mainsteam TV news channels doing a good job by talking about this press conference and hundreds like this, showing muted clips to prove that they "were there", with their own voice-overs playing on top, but omitting out the full actual press conference and its audio? If they can spend upwards of an hour repeating the same one-liners and sharing their own opinions on this event, do you think they could spare 18 minutes or even just 5 to replay the actual video feed, as they usually do for most of BJP's or Congress's public addresses? Do you see them giving this same treatment to announcements by other political parties? 

After cutting out all primary sources and becoming the middle man in the job of conveying what is announced at press conferences to the larger public, would you say that the mainstream media of India has been doing their job well?


Pertaining to this particular news, how come there hasn't been any press conference by the LG on this decision, how come no question-answer with the LG, now that he IS the supreme unelected authority governing over and responsible for the lives of the people of Delhi as per High Court verdict? Is anybody asking whether the LG will in fact reclaim money from compensated farmers, or cancel salary increases of teachers, or will he really proceed with demolishing Mohalla Clinics or new classrooms constructed? Is any mainstream media organization going to try holding the LG accountable for the decisions he makes? Is anyone bothering to ask the LG how his decisions are in the best interests of the people of Delhi (aka, is he doing his job or not)?

If Delhi's CM expresses opposition to any of this (in keeping with his mandate as the elected representative of the citizens of Delhi), won't our corporate-owned mainstream media just repeat their "AK slams LG", "AK attacks PM" etc screaming all over again and then conclude that "Delhi's CM is incapable of working with the Centre, is always in blaming mode only" ? What proof will the media, or you, need to accept that a complaint can also be valid and that the act of complaining in itself is not a sign of evil or incompetence?

Would the Sheila Dixit or prior governments of Delhi have stayed even one day in office under such working conditions? Would any other political party in this country not have sat on the road and started a dharna over such a wipe-out of their autonomy? But if AAP ever does what any other party would have done, wouldn't we again label them as dharna kings, dharnebaaz etc? Haven't we been brainwashed by the media to reactively do this without looking at the issue at hand? What are your "different expectations of AAP" : they they should quietly roll over and die? That they should abandon their duty as the democratically elected representatives of the people of Delhi in order to fulfill a media-dictated illusion of propriety that no one would never expect of anybody else?

Wasn't the original dharna controversy by Arvind Kejriwal also in protest against the LG-controlled Delhi Police's blank refusal for taking any remedial steps after a series of gangrapes and dowry killings had rocked Delhi? Have any of the journalists who so gleefully attacked and derided that dharna, ever bothered looking into what happened to the victims of those heinous crimes, did their kin get any justice at all? 

Or have they investigated the fact that gangrapes, dowry killings, harassments leading to murder of women have since continued unabated in Delhi, even over 2 years into BJP central rule, and it remains the rape capital of India, co-incidentally being the biggest city where the police force reports to an unelected central govt LG and not to the elected representatives? Who should be held responsible for this problem that seriously affects every woman, grandmother and girl who lives in Delhi and because of which large companies with female employees are wary of doing business there? Again, is the act of complaining evil in itself, or is even greater evil being unleashed by those who vehemently attack the complainer and doing so give free pass to the wrongdoings that were being complained about?

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