As India continues to reel under the ferocious second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, the foreign media outlets have gone into overdrive feasting on the dead and projecting a grim picture of the tragedy. From obsessing over the funeral pyres to spreading fake news, foreign media outlets seemed to have junked the vestiges of journalistic ethics and integrity in their coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak in India.
Recently, the New York Post used a misleading image in an article published on its website about the COVID-19 crisis in India. The article titled “COVID-19 surge ‘swallowing’ people in India, the footage shows people dead in streets” used a featured image in which a woman was seen lying unconscious on the road, with another woman, presumably her daughter trying to wake her up.
However, the image is not from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The image is from a video clip shot during the gas leak incident in Visakhapatnam which took place in May 2020. The incident referred to as the Vizag gas leak, took place on 7 May 2020 at the LG Polymers chemical plant in the R.R Venkatapuram village. The resulting vapour cloud spread over a radius of 3 KM, causing breathing problems to people in the nearby villages.
The featured image of an article posted by the NY Post was the gas leak incident and not from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak as the headlines suggested. When users slammed the media outlet that the feature image is misleading and old, the NY Post quickly changed the image. However, the title of the article still remained the same.
There are no images in the entire article to substantiate its claim that people were dying on the streets in India and were left unattended. Perhaps, the scribes at the New York Post are so woefully incompetent that when their lies about the misleading image were called out, it did not occur to them that they also need to change the headline of the article.
Over the last few days, India has seen an abnormal surge in the COVID-19 cases across the country. Hospitals are running at overcapacity, oxygen supplies are limited, and there is a shortage of beds and crucial drugs such as Remdesivir. However, the Indian government, in collaboration with the industrialists, state governments and foreign countries, are working on a war footing to address these inadequacies.
India is in the midst of a raging coronavirus outbreak. There is no denying the fact. But the crisis is nowhere as grim as the foreign media outlets are exaggerating it to be. For a long time now, global media organisations have a habit of understating India’s stellar achievements and overstating the problems bedevilling it.
The COVID-19 outbreak has revealed how, in their bid to show India in a bad light, the western media outlets have no qualms in using misleading old images and footages and paint a picture of doom and gloom.
Western Media outlets’ morbid obsession of linking COVID-19 outbreak with funeral pyres
The COVID-19 pandemic has also disclosed the western media’s unhealthy fetish of linking India’s COVID-19 outbreak with funeral pyres. Several media organisations, be it Washington Post or Reuters, posted pictures of funeral pyres from various places in India to highlight the severity of the pandemic. One of the Washington Post journalists even described a cremation ground’s vertical shot as “stunning”.
Where there are deaths, there are obviously going to be funeral pyres. When the pandemic took its devastating toll on the US, Italy, Brazil and other western countries, there were hardly any media organisations that symbolised the outbreak with the images of burial grounds.
This indignity of linking the COVID-19 outbreak with funeral pyres is reserved only for Indians, and it smacks of the west’s envy of India, which was remarkably successful in staving off the initial COVID-19 outbreak when the developed and richer countries of the world were finding it incredibly difficult to control it.