Friday, March 6, 2009

Understanding Indian Media - Tehelka & TOI

A brilliant article on how reporters twist the truth and modify statements to suit their views. These people more or less decide what the outcome of the interview is going to be before even meeting the interviewee. This one shows how people at Tehelka subvert the truth to satisfy their ulterior motives.

"India's No.1 sting operators Tehelka decided to have a go at Sangh. On scanning the galaxy of Sangh leaders they zeroed on Shri Madhavrao G. Vaidya, who was a spokesperson of Sangh. He has retired 16 months back from this responsibility and has gone back to Nagpur. He has some land at a nearby village Taroda and sometimes he also stays there to attend his personal work. Shri Vijay Simha, a journalist from Tehelka met him and asked for an interview. Shri Vaidya refused to give any interview regarding Sangh and asked him to contact the present spokesperson Shri Ram Madhav for that purpose. After much persuasion, he agreed, but insisted that Tehelka must send him a written questionnaire and he will send his written replies.
The technique of a personal interview is varied. But the main weapon to confuse an interviewee is to put a question and if he/she is giving a correct answer, put him another question before he finishes his reply. This technique is used by even an old reporter of BBC was interviewing Netanyahu, once the PM of Israel. The same was used against Shri Narendra Modi by a TV channel. But he pointedly completed the answer to his first question and then went on to the next. Shri Vaidya is dedicated Swayamsevak since 40s. He was a Sanskrit professor in a Nagpur College. Later he was the editor of Tarun Bharat Nagpur for years, which he ran successfully. Thus he has a long experience of journalism and has seen the thin and thick in the prime years of Sangh, was an ideologue and formed an important member of the core body deciding the policy matters of Sangh.

His answers are lucid, clear and pointed. He analyses the questions and separate the husk from grain and points out the inconsistencies in the questions. If they are loaded and asked with a prejudice, he understands them and says so. Most importantly, he does not try to answer such questions with the false basis on which the question is asked, but first demolishes the basis which the interviewer has taken for granted and then gives his answer straight and to the point. Shri Simha has used all the techniques in asking the questions. But Vaidya was not trapped.
Tehelka could not twist the answers given by Shri Vaidya as they were in writing. But what it has done is to misuse its prerogative of editors to:

1. Change the order of questions instead of printing them in the same order as in their questionnaire
2. Doctor the text by just dropping inconvenient portions and lastly,
3. Not printing some important questions and answers. They asked 25 questions and printed only 14.

We obtained the text of questions and answers from Shri M. G. Vaidya and are reproducing it in the annexure. It is printed in the same order in which the questions were asked and answered by Shri Vaidya with the following features:

At the end of the question the number at which it is printed is given in bracket. The question which was answered but was not printed or the portion, which was not printed, is given in italics. It will be noticed that the dropped portions are inconvenient for Tehelka to print and do not go with the aim of the article which was written by Simha. Many of them were prejudiced and asked with the intention of creating confusion. But the answers are very clear and in fact satisfactory and beyond criticism."

"Newspaper readers I have met over the weekend are laughing rather than taking the messages seriously.
So maybe the main aim is simply to reward loyal newspapers by boosting their advertising incomes - and to keep them loyal with the increased rates and reduced commissions that apply till the election is over.
Unsurprisingly, the Times of India and Economic Times get most advertisements - there were 12 in the Times yesterday, some repeating ones that appeared in the paper the day before."

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