Thursday, October 22, 2020
Home Fact-Check How Hindustan Times' headlines hide more than they reveal: Here is the truth

How Hindustan Times’ headlines hide more than they reveal: Here is the truth

In today’s milieu of crisp sound-bites, news-break- a-minute and short attention spans, the struggle to capture eyeballs and mind space of readers and viewers has become fiercely competitive. We, as consumers of news, have become increasingly laid back and lazy, preferring our brains to be spoon-fed thoughts and ideas the anchors or journalists find fit to feed us. On the other side of the fence, newspapers and television journalists have become more and more imaginative to ensure survival. They have also, alarmingly, shifted the definition of their own role from reporting news to ‘shaping opinions’ – as this tweet indicates.

I call this trend alarming for, if the reporters, anchors and editors are seeing themselves in such a role, who is to decide WHAT that opinion should be on a particular issue. And to what extent does such a role affect the judicious reporting of facts without giving it a subtle (or not so subtle) slant to suit the side towards which opinion is sought to be shaped. Of course, it’s not really possible to lie or fabricate facts to achieve this, without leaving themselves open to legal action. So the next best option is to ‘twist’ them. Instead of ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’, we get half-truths, opinions dressed up as facts, and their biggest weapon of all – misleading headlines. Capitalising on the tendency of the average news consumer to restrict their reading to the headlines, the message purported to be conveyed is cleverly crafted into it. That the rest of the story may not really bear it out completely doesn’t matter. It’s never going to be read most of the times anyway.

As a test case, I took up a random page from the newspaper I subscribe to, the Hindustan Times (New Delhi Edition, Page 14, 14 August), to examine the headlines and see how far the stories bear them out.

“Experts punch holes in Modi’s PoK plan” as per the first headline under the by-line of @jayanthjacob He starts by telling the readers that the idea is not new and previous governments have been down this path earlier (therefore all this praise that the PM is receiving for it is misplaced and unfounded). He then goes on to quote the experts who, as per the headline have allegedly perforated the plan into a sieve. Maybe Jacob and I have a different understanding of what it means to punch holes into something, but I couldn’t find a single expert quoted list a single flaw in the plan per se. All I found them doing is agreeing that it’s a bold move, and the challenge lies in now putting it into action. To my mind, any plan has challenges in implementation, and when it comes to a foreign policy initiative of such complexity, this is no great revelation. But nor does it construe trashing the plan itself.

The second headline tells us, “Centre, state govt staff may soon have to wear khadi once a week to office”. The story by @meetuttam and Moushumi Das Gupta would possibly like to have us believe what an autocratic dictatorship that this government is turning out to be (we told you so) by passing such a diktat, which, obviously, the hapless government servants have no option but to comply with. It goes so well with the narrative of this government telling people what to eat, wear and do. That is the impression such a headline would leave someone who doesn’t bother to read the story with. Which is what, I suspect, 90% of the readers would do. Though if you do bother to do so, you will find that the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has written a letter to the central and state governments with this suggestion. Several state governments, including Uttar Pradesh, have liked the idea and have passed it on to their employees, it has NOT been made mandatory by any of them.

Next, piece by @smritikak tells us “RSS to mark Akhand Bharat Diwas Today”. While you may be pardoned for giving in to images of jingoistic celebrations exhorting people to undo the partition and reclaim the whole of Bharatvarsha if you are one of the few who does bother to read beyond the headlines you might feel let down. “We don’t believe in the merging of states, but there should be a meeting of people”, a senior functionary is quoted. Isn’t that also what the much hailed ‘Aman ki Asha’ talks about, as do people who want Pakistani artistes to perform in India and vice versa?

Lastly, a headline goes, “Cong legacy doesn’t figure in Govt’s I-Day celebration plan”. It’s difficult to figure out whether this particular gem is deliberately misleading, or simply a result of lazy reporting without even basic research. It goes on to inform us that Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar would be travelling to Allahabad to pay tributes to Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. Ministers would also be travelling to the birthplaces of other leaders, including Jayaprakash Narain, K Kamraj and the poet Subramania Bharati to pay homage to them. All these had been active members of the Indian National Congress during the independence movement, and in fact, Pandit Malviya and Kamraj have been presidents of the party. So how can the headline be justified? Unless the newspaper or its reporter are restricting Congress legacy to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which actually doesn’t figure in the plans. Considering that in the past so many years it was completely the other way around, one wonders how many articles were written in the past about the Congress leaders mentioned above being ignored.

As educated, discerning consumers of news, we must, therefore, make it a point to look beyond the headlines to avoid being led like sheep by whichever school of thought your newspaper or TV channel subscribe to, our opinions ‘shaped’ like mindless minions that we are possibly imagined to be.

This post first appeared on my blog swordarm.in

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

rohitagarwalhttp://www.rohitagarwal.in
A former Army officer, now a Learning and Development consultant, Author of 'Delhi Durbar 1911 - The Complete Story', 'Riding the Raisina Tiger', 'Brave Men of War - Tales of Valour 1965', 'In the Line of Fire' and 'Academy - Bonded for Life'. He was also part of the panel  engaged by Ministry of Defence for writing official history of India's participation in First World War. Follow Rohit on Twitter @ragarwal

Related Articles

Trending now

Remembering Lalu’s Jungle Raj in Bihar: When an IAS officer’s wife was raped for two years by an RJD leader

During Lalu's Jungle Raj in Bihar, IAS Officer BB Vishwas's wife Chamba Biswas was raped for 2 years by RJD leader Mrityunjay Yadav

“Your outrage against Hinduphobic content on OTT platforms may actually be fuelling more such content”- Here is what an industry insider says

OTT platforms are not hit if a movie or a series if boycotted for Hinduphobic content as people have already paid for subscription

No, India Today, Katrina Kaif in yellow saree for Navratri is not offensive to Hindus, this is where you got it wrong

India Today tries to be holier than thou while trying to paint Hindus as trolls over Eros Now's vulgar Navratri posts

CM Yogi distributes relief amount of Rs 113.21 crore among the flood-affected farmers in Uttar Pradesh

CM Yogi distributed the relief amount to the flood-affected farmers in 19 districts of the state by online transaction.

‘Mughal Prince Tucy’ lashes out on AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi, calls him ‘Bewakoof, and Gadha’

Prince Tucy said that when the people of Hyderabad are dealing with horrific floods, MP Asaduddin Owaisi is busy doing poll campaign in Bihar.

Is Modi govt giving Coronavirus vaccines for ‘free’ only to Bihar? No, that’s not how it works

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday while releasing the BJP manifesto in Bihar for upcoming elections said that the BJP promises free coronavirus vaccines in Bihar, whenever the vaccine is made available.

Recently Popular

UK: 37-year-old paedophile named Rehan Baig jailed for raping chickens to death while his wife filmed it

Rhan Baig's wife had also joined him in the videos and at one point he alternated between having sex with his wife and the chickens.

Eros Now apologises for publishing vulgar Hinduphobic content on Navratri

After netizens outraged over vulgar posts on Navratri, Eros Now issued an apology.

France: Charlie Hebdo cartoons projected on government building to express solidarity with deceased teacher who was beheaded by Islamic terrorist

Days after the barbaric beheading of teacher Samuel Paty on the streets of Paris by a terrorist for showing the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad to his students, support continues to pour in for the deceased teacher.

Remember Sheena Bora case? Param Bir Singh was the IG of Konkan range, the site where her body was dumped

Param Bir Singh knew that Sheena Bora was missing. He had asked Rahul Mukerjea to file a 'missing persons' report. Sheena, however, was never reported as 'missing'.

‘Comedian’ Agrima Joshua, who calls herself ‘feminist’, passes offensive sexual comments against woman due to political differences

Agrima Joshua had earlier found herself in a controversy after insulting the Shivaji Maharaj memorial during a performance.

Paris: Two Muslim women stabbed under Eiffel Tower by white women shouting “dirty Arabs”

Two Muslim women were stabbed repeatedly under the Eiffel Tower on Sunday night by two white women who called them "dirty Arabs".
- Advertisement -

Complaints filed against Eros Now and Arré for vulgar social media posts related to Navratri

Both Eros Now and Arre had published social media posts linking Navratri festival with sex and vulgarity

Chhattisgarh police file FIR against video journalist who had reported on farmer protests based on an allegedly edited video

Video journalist Manish Soni had reported about the plight of farmers whose paddy crops were ruined due to anti-encroachment drive

Reducing Navratri to ‘mating dance’, comparing Holi with terrorism— how the Indian media has turned Hinduphobic

After Eros Now posted series of vulgar messages associated with Navratri, far-left site Arre posted a Hinduphobic tweet on Durga puja

Remembering Lalu’s Jungle Raj in Bihar: When an IAS officer’s wife was raped for two years by an RJD leader

During Lalu's Jungle Raj in Bihar, IAS Officer BB Vishwas's wife Chamba Biswas was raped for 2 years by RJD leader Mrityunjay Yadav

“Your outrage against Hinduphobic content on OTT platforms may actually be fuelling more such content”- Here is what an industry insider says

OTT platforms are not hit if a movie or a series if boycotted for Hinduphobic content as people have already paid for subscription

Mumbai Police threatens Republic TV executive editor with imprisonment for refusing to reveal source of Hansa report in TRP scam

Republic TV Executive Editor warned by Mumabi Police that he will be booked under IPC sections 174 and 179 if does not give source of Hansa report

No, India Today, Katrina Kaif in yellow saree for Navratri is not offensive to Hindus, this is where you got it wrong

India Today tries to be holier than thou while trying to paint Hindus as trolls over Eros Now's vulgar Navratri posts

UP: Police find conversion of over 200 people to Buddhism fake, people were asked to sign conversion papers disguised as govt scheme

After reports of 236 Valmiki community members converting to Buddhisim, police find no evidence of conversion in Karehra village

Lucknow: Jama Mazar caretaker ‘Kale Baba’ caught running sex racket, video goes viral

The caretaker has allegedly confessed to police that he was sexually exploiting women and engaging them in illicit activities in the name of curing infertility and other ailments.

Meghalaya: Khasi student body puts up racist posters saying “All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis”

The banners put up by Khasi Students Union read, ''All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis'' and "Khasiland for Khasis; Foreigners Go Away".

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
466,035FollowersFollow
18,800SubscribersSubscribe