Sunday, November 1, 2020
Home Media How mainstream media is failing India during a pandemic: Fake news and the migrant...

How mainstream media is failing India during a pandemic: Fake news and the migrant crisis amidst Coronavirus lockdown

With great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, at present, Indian journalism is not even close to playing superhero.

These days, mainstream media has been complaining about how it’s being treated. One can make the argument that Indian journalism is dominated by mainstream media via print and broadcast. And sure enough, these platforms ideologically lean one way or the other. But this is an incorrect statement. Indian journalism is undergoing a transformation. 

Today, we don’t just consume information from newspapers, television and radio. We also have social media platforms, chat platforms, blogs and live-streaming. Moreover, citizens do not simply consume the news. They have willingly become a part of some aspect of media. For instance, there are over 280 million Facebook users in the country. 13 million have Twitter accounts. 88 million are on Instagram. 

These social media platforms may have started out for social networking. Today, they are significant players in the news space which makes them a double-edged sword. One on end, these platforms allow for posts, digital content creation, citizen journalism and greater outreach. On the other end, fake news and misinformation have entered Indian journalism for the foreseeable future. 

The plethora of fake news, fear-mongering and misinformation is evident with COVID-19 coverage. In fact, coverage had gotten so out of hand that the Supreme Court of India and the Press Council of India had to step in. Both issued advisories to the media. 

Specifically, the Supreme Court said, “The migration of a large number of labourers working in cities was triggered by panic created by fake news that the lockdown would continue for more than three months. Such panic-driven migration has caused untold suffering to those that believed and acted on such news. In fact, some have lost their lives in the process. It is, therefore, not possible for us to overlook this menace of fake news…”

Furthermore, the Press Council of India called upon “media to responsibl[y] ensure dissemination of verified news on coronavirus outbreak, based on the daily bulletin by the government following the Supreme Court’s directive on the issue.”  

Despite this, mainstream media continues to publish anti-government and fake narratives. And when these pieces get fact-checked and countered with credibility, these platforms opt to play the victim card. Predictably and unsurprisingly, they accuse the Central government for attacking the ‘freedom of the press.’ 

The actuality of this is simple. If the Prime Minister and the Central Government are free speech ‘oppressors,’ then how are the following articles getting published and widely circulated? 

Example 1. 

The Wire targeted national leaders and published an article on how these ‘authoritarians’ are using COVID-19 to conceal their ineptitude. 

The actuality: India has been lauded internationally by multiple bodies for the way it is handling the pandemic as compared to other affected nations. 

Example 2.

The Print articulated how COVID-19 decision-making is determined by PM Modi’s political aspirations. 

The actuality: Multiple videoconferences have been held between PM Modi and Chief Ministers. All suggestions and considerations were taken seriously and made public. Today, it is state leaders that are in control of what action to take based on the COVID-19 situation within each respective state/UT. The Central government is providing necessary support as needed. 

Example 3. 

The Indian Express went so far as to elaborate how COVID-19 has put an end to the ‘problems’ created by the CAA. 

The actuality: The Indian Express was called out for cropping published images to mislead the public on the CAA and the Delhi Riots that took place. It held a clear anti-government and fear-mongering stance on the CAA and the Delhi Riots. Consequently, linking COVID-19 to CAA gives zero credibility. 

What is the tragedy here? Mainstream media is not utilizing social media platforms’ enhanced technology and wider outreach for the greater good. Social media platforms are present in every corner and strata across India. WhatsApp has proven to be one of the most powerful mediums for delivering information quickly. Yet, there is far less information on best practices. There is even less coverage on how economies have been hit by pandemics before and bounce back. And only a handful of published pieces on how India will become self-reliant and more digitized.  

What is needed from Indian journalism right now is positive, objective content giving clarity on the way forward. How citizens should learn to live with COVID-19 safely. What industries and job opportunities are opening up. How can entrepreneurs and our young workforce go digital in a sustainable manner. The Indian masses are craving this information. Instead, mainstream media still opts to publish sensationalism, misinformation and fear-mongering. 

Indians have shown their notable capacity in the fight against coronavirus. The presence on the internet and social media platforms has exponentially increased as the fourth phase of the national lockdown continues. The press is a fundamental pillar of democracy. This means that mainstream media can easily create positive impact in India’s current situation. By publishing content that sheds light on how citizens should go forward post-lockdown, mainstream media can indeed be the superhero in fighting COVID-19. 

With great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, at present, Indian journalism is not even close to playing superhero.

  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

Priyanka Deo
Priyanka Deo is currently an executive producer and anchor at New India Junction. She holds masters’ degrees from Harvard, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Southern California.

Related Articles

Trending now

Who is Farhan Zuberi, now booked for threatening to behead people for insulting Islam: Here is his connection to AMU, AIMIM and anti-CAA violence

Farhan Zuberi is also an office-bearer of Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM. he is currently the in-charge of the party's youth wing in Western Uttar Pradesh.

Mend ways, or ‘Ram Naam Satya’ journey will begin: Yogi Adityanath cautions those who change religious identity to trap women, vows law against Love...

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday issued a stern warning to the miscreants indulging in love jihad by concealing their identities and entrapping girls and women in their relationship.

‘Osama bin Laden is less reprehensible than Trump,’ claims ‘rational atheist’ Sam Harris who once described the terrorist as a ‘moral hero in a...

Sam Harris claimed in his podcast Making Sense that Osama bin Laden is a less reprehensible person than Donald Trump.

IFCN certified fact-checking website throws a Hindu girl to wolves in Bangladesh in case where she went missing after alleged ‘insult’ to Prophet Muhammad:...

Despite being well aware that lives of Hindus are threatened in Bangladesh, newschecker.in has given way for Tithy's harassment.

The Second Republic: Why Narendra Modi drawing a comparison between Somnath Temple and Ram Mandir on Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is significant

The birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the 31st of October is commemorated as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.

Hindu girl, who was suspended from Bangladesh university for ‘insulting’ Prophet Muhammad, has been missing for 6 days: Here is what happened

Hindu girl Tithy Sarkar goes missing in Bangladesh after allegedly making comments that insulted Prophet Muhammad and Islam

Recently Popular

Tauseef, who was harassing and forcing Nikita to convert to Islam, decided to kill her after watching web series ‘Mirzapur’: Report

During the interrogation, the accused Tauseef confessed to the police officials that he was inspired by the character of 'Munna' in the Mirzapur webseries.

As Pakistan minister admits role in Pulwama attack, Rajdeep Sardesai rushes to his rescue, allows him to ‘clarify’, attack India instead, NDTV follows suit

India Today and NDTV come together to rescue Pakistan minister Fawad Chaudhry after he admitted Terroristan's role in Pulwama attack

Russia: Teenager shot dead after he shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ and stabs police officer

On Friday, a 16-year-old terrorist was shot dead by police in the Muslim-dominated region of Tatarstan in Russia.

AMU student leader Farhan Zuberi calls for the beheading of those who insult Islam, justifies his statement on Live TV

Amidst the terror attacks in France and global call of Muslims to boycott French products over the Charlie Hebdo row AMU student Farhan Zuberi justifies beheading of individuals who dares to dishonour Prophet Muhammad

The Print columnist Zainab Sikander Siddiqui wants Charlie Hebdo to have the “guts” to mock the Holocaust if it wants to publish cartoons on...

Zainab Sikander Siddiqui ruled that Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking other religions are not offensive, only cartoons on Islam are offensive

Hindu girl, who was suspended from Bangladesh university for ‘insulting’ Prophet Muhammad, has been missing for 6 days: Here is what happened

Hindu girl Tithy Sarkar goes missing in Bangladesh after allegedly making comments that insulted Prophet Muhammad and Islam
- Advertisement -

Activist producer-director files complaint against all news channels with NBSA over ‘media trial’ in Sushant Singh Rajput death case

The complaint alleges that all news channels have indulged in media trial in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case in last 4 months

Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad, NCP corporator Ashraf Shanu Pathan and other NCP leaders organise protest against France in Mumbra

Senior leaders of the NCP, which is part of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra, have come out openly in protests against France

Kerala: Minor Dalit girl who self-immolated after raped by a DYFI member succumbs to burn injuries

The 16-year-old Dalit victim girl had set herself on fire by pouring kerosene after DYFI member Manu Manoj had raped her

Radical Muslim social media users trend hashtags in support Raza Academy after the radical organisation received severe backlash for its anti-France campaign

Raza Academy had launched a campaign against France, asking Islamic countries to issue Fatwa against French for 'Islamophobia'

Muslims hold placards with picture of French President with a footprint over his face during anti-France protest near the French consulate in Kolkata

Apart from Kolkata, Muslims in various other cities have joined their religious counterparts worldwide to protest against France

Kamal Nath calls me a dog, yes, I will attack the person who wants to harm the public: Jyotiraditya Scindia opens front against Kamal...

The by-poll is considered as an opportunity for Jyotiraditya Scindia to emerge as a formidable leader in the BJP camp.

Sadiya Anwar Shaikh, who was arrested for links with ISIS, was de-radicalised twice in the past: NIA charge-sheet

Sadiya Anwar Shaikh was de-radicalised twice in the past by intelligence agencies for radical comments on social media

Kashmir is integral to India’s civilisational heritage, given its Hindu and Buddhist history: Excerpt from ‘A New Idea Of India: Individual Rights In A...

A New Idea Of India: Individual Rights In A Civilisational State is written by Harsh Madhusudan and Rajeev Mantri.

The muffled voices of Hyderabad: Unaccounted reports of mass genocide of local Hindus under the Nizam

One of the largest princely states within the Indian union was Hyderabad, a Hindu-majority region ruled by a Muslim Nizam.

“I would have done the same”, says poet Munawwar Rana supporting the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamic terrorist

Munawwar Rana claimed honour killing has been allowed for thousands of years so beheading for blasphemy should be allowed

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
472,484FollowersFollow
19,600SubscribersSubscribe