By Sushil Kutty
With US President Donald Trump in all-out war with media, fake news and fake media are current news. And one piece of news that sounds like “fake news” and is doing the rounds is that news reporting in mainstream Indian media is “fair and objective”.
According to a Pew Research survey, a significant majority of Indians believe that news reporting by their mainstream media is “fair and objective”. It says “in all the parameters Indian media scores better than the American media.”
The survey results come even as Trump announced that he will present ‘Fake Media Awards’ to media outlets which do inaccurate reporting. Trump has already identified a clutch of media including CNN, New York Times and Washington Post as fake media.
The Pew survey said as many as 72 per cent of Indians believe their media was doing fairly good coverage of the government. If that is not hogwash than what is? India’s TV news media is notoriously divided in camps – pro-government and anti-government.
If Republic TV and Times Now are lock, stock and barrel in the ‘with the government/BJP camp’ along with Zee News and Aaj Tak and India TV, India Today TV and CNN-News18 straddle the fence. NDTV, which was throughout with the Congress, has “corrected” towards the government in recent months. Its Hindi version remains skewed in favour of the Congress.
Fair and balanced coverage from these and other TV news channels is just not there. And media units that toe the government line outnumber those that do not. As for Indian print media, they are a degree more fair and objective, at least in the reporting; the editorials may differ from paper to paper and from region to region, depending on which party is in government where.
The Pew survey said that against a global median of 62 per cent people agreeing that news organisations were doing a good job at reporting the news accurately, 80 per cent of Indian respondents were of the view that Indian news organisations were “accurate”.
Only seven per cent believed otherwise. In the United States, 43 percent said that their media was not objective and accurate. However, a majority (56 per cent) of Americans believed that the mainstream media was objective and fair in reporting.
Pew said as many as 65 per cent of Indians considered their news media was covering political issues “fairly”; 72 per cent for government leaders and officials, 80 per cent believed that the media was “accurately” covering the news and 72 per cent of them believed the most important news of the day was being covered fairly by the Indian media.
In all these parameters, according to the Pew survey, Indian media fared much better than the American media where the figure stood respectively at 47 per cent (for reporting political issues), 58 per cent (news about government leaders and officials), 56 per cent (news accurately) and 61 per cent (most important events).
The Pew survey said as many as 72 per cent of Indians believed their media was doing fairly good coverage of the government. Only 10 per cent of Indians believed media does not do good coverage of the government compared to 41 per cent Americans. The global median was 39 per cent.
On the flip side, 58 per cent of respondents in the US thought the media was doing a good coverage of the government, a point lower than the global median of 59 per cent.
In India, a low 16 per cent think their news media is doing a poor job reporting different positions on political issues fairly compared with 65 per cent who say they are doing well. In the US, the figures stands for 52 per cent and 47 per cent respectively, against the global median of 44 per cent and 52 per cent respectively Pew said.
According to the Pew survey, India stood out for its percentage of people who follow local news very closely (61 per cent), against 40 per cent in the US and the global median of just 37 per cent. While in most of the countries surveyed, interest in local news was equal to or lower than interest in national news, people followed local news more than national news in just two countries – India and Indonesia.
Pew said a global median of 35 per cent say they use social media to get news daily, while 13 per cent use it less than once a day to get news. About half (52 per cent) say they never use social networking sites to get news. In India, notably, only 15 per cent said they use social media to get daily news. There is a disparity in the gender though. Only eight per cent of the women in India said they rely on social media to get daily news, as against 22 per cent by men. (IPA Service)