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  • Girish Karnad

Are We Watching Biased News?

Updated: Sep 3


Watching the news has been my pastime for a long time. Over the years I have watched news evolve - from the staid, boring news on Doordarshan of the yester years, often delivered with a deadpan face to the racy, dramatic breaking news of today.  A few weeks ago, I was browsing through the news channels and came across one with a different format. It has an international look, great global footage and reports news "as is" and, it is an Indian news channel ! No discussions, no opinions pushed down our throats - just plain unbiased news, letting the audience make their own informed opinions and decisions. It has become my favourite news channel now. 


So what do most of the news channels have to offer? More opinions and discussions, where spokespersons of political parties engage in sledge-hammering and shouting each other down. Moderators who try to guide the discussions in a particular way, depending on their channels' political affiliations. A majority of the invited panelists are chosen on the basis of their political alignment. Interviews where the anchors try their level best to make their guests uncomfortable, so that they are caught on the wrong foot and end up saying that one wrong thing - which then becomes "breaking news" !  Subject matter experts who are not just experts, but have their own political ideologies that do not contradict those of the news channel.   


It appalls me to watch news being reported in different ways on different news channels. One news channel reports a particular piece of news and claims that it is a setback to the ruling government and a victory for the opposition. Another channel reports the same news as an advantage and moral victory for the government over the opposition parties. Before the elections, we find each channel conducting informal interviews of voters across the country. Most often these are engineered and selectively broadcast to influence the voters towards a political party or against another political agenda. All this happens while claiming that their channel is a front runner in their campaign against fake news. 


It is surprising how the news channels get away with such transgression in the name of creative journalism and freedom of speech and expression. I understand there is a code of conduct that journalists and media channels are required to follow. There is a thin line dividing fake news and manipulated news. News channels and journalists have a responsibility towards our nation. They have to remember that they are not kingmakers.


I strongly believe that the citizens of India are intelligent enough to make their own informed decisions based on facts - we do not need news channels to do it for us. As for me, I have stopped watching most of these news channels and move directly to my favourite one to get unbiased, unadulterated news. 


What about you?  Are you watching unbiased news?  

Note: For obvious reasons, I have deliberately chosen not to name any news channel. 

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© 2019 by Girish Karnad