AUTHENTICITY OF PRESS.
Updated: Mar 14
TOPIC - AUTHENTICITY OF PRESS.
By: - Aryan Sharma (RESEARCH INTERN, STAMBH ORGANISATION)
© 2021StambhOrganisation: All Rights Reserved
Date- 3 rd July 2021
AUTHENTICITY OF PRESS.
Role of Media informing
“Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.”
What is Media?
The term media originated from the Latin word; medium/ medius; which means; intermediate; middle ground. Media refers to the communication channels through which news, music,
movies, promotional messages, or other data is promulgated. It describes the various ways of
communication in a society as it refers to all means of communication, ranging from a telephone
call to the news on television.
Different types of media:
Media can be classified into four types:
1) Print media
It is a major source of information for a large number of people. It may be national, local, daily,
or weekly newspaper. It is available to the masses at a very low cost.
It is a specialized advertising media that serves the educational, informational, and other
specialized needs of consumers, industries, and businesses. It is a high involvement media as the
consumers pay a premium price for the magazines.
2) Broadcast media
It is a principal source of information and entertainment. It is believed to be the most
authoritative, exciting, and influential medium for reaching a very large audience as it combines
visual images, color, motion, and sound to achieve the viewer's attention.
Radio is a premier mass medium for advertisers and users as it has a widespread reach. It
efficiently delivers the message to a large number of people across the country as its
broadcasting is undertaken in the major cities as well as the rural areas.
3) Outdoor media
Outdoor media which is also known as transit advertising includes billboards, neon signs posters,
etc. It has the potential to generate considerable reach as it has geographic flexibility and a
The internet is rapidly emerging as viable and a major source of communication as many people
especially during this time of adversity seek news, educational material, and entertainment online
because it is a worldwide medium that provides means of exchanging information through the
use of the world wide web, social media, etc. Social media is a platform where communities
interact, collaborate, and share content.
What is Propaganda?
In 1939 Miller defined "propaganda as an expression of opinion or actions by individuals or
groups deliberately designed to influence opinion or actions of other individuals or groups with
reference to predetermined ends". In layman's terms, Propaganda refers to a deliberate process
through which one uses persuasion techniques to convince all parties to agree with the desired
notion, as well as management of collective attitude and perceptions by manipulating the key
symbols and information. It is a consistent and enduring effort to create or shape an event in such
a way that influences the public view. usually, propaganda is used for selfish gains or to distract
Bandwagon: this technique works because of the inherent desire of the people to identify with
their peers. Propagandists exploit this flaw by appealing to the public, convincing them to think,
speak or act in a specific way simply because everyone else is.
Snob appeal: in an attempt to appeal to the general public's aspiration to belong to the society's
higher class, propagandists can use snob appeal as a technique. This involves convincing the
public in ways that are beneficial to the propagandists and serve their purposes. This technique
works only if the propagandists are able to advertise their ideas, product, or opinion as worthy of
Card stacking: it is the use of facts that support only one side of an issue or candidate to look
good or convincing. It means stacking the cards in favor of the product; in this technique
advertisers, stress is positive qualities and ignore negative.
Transfer: Transfer is when a symbol that carries respect, authority, sanction, and prestige is used
along with an idea or argument to make it look more acceptable. It is the use of patriotic and
popular symbols to create a positive or a negative image.
Positive- when pleasant music, beautiful outdoor, happy families, etc. are featured.
Negative: when shocking images of an oil spill or black and white images or any other form of
unpleasant imagery is featured.
Media plays a very dynamic role, if not the most important role in extinguishing or propagating
propaganda. This can include anything ranging from social media, magazines, newspapers,
television radio, etc; taking the example of news sources, they are expected to present a story or
narrative with all its facts and without any biases. This is one of the most perplexing obstacles
faced by the news sources while reporting, as it is almost impossible to eliminate all biases since
it is usually the bias that helps to form an opinion. News sources can compensate for this bias by
reporting all the actual facts, which allows the viewers in turn to use their critical thinking to
form their own opinion regarding a story. This bias of the news channels can also prove to be
useful. In order to counteract or see-through propaganda, it is important that multiple sources of
information exist for the benefit of the audience. This helps because, unless the story is entirely
straightforward or black and white, statistically different news channels should have different
opinions or different biases about the same story. Therefore, if all the news sources seem to be
promoting the same narratives without all the facts or with minimal facts, it is upon the viewer to
figure out whether what being presented to them is the truth or mere propaganda.
Politicization of Media
The whole scenario of news in the present world is completely different from what it used to be.
Any incident or news comes with a political motive. Important news is politicized to a great level
for mere political gain and to score brownie points against each other. The blame game of the
political parties becomes the main highlight and the real essence of the news takes the backseat.
Today, no one knows the real story. Indian media is highly politicized. Taking sides, supporting
the political agenda, and not giving the real news has been the main aspects of Indian media in
the present day.
We get different versions of news depending upon which newspaper we subscribe to or which
channels we watch. For instance, a pro-congress newspaper always highlights the positives of the
party in the front pages where the negatives are being hidden in the inside pages. One newspaper
will go all the way to praise Congress with hidden motive and the other will fire all cylinders
against Congress to put forward BJP's achievement. In the progress, we fail to get the real news.
Accordingly, our opinions are formed. More or less, we get highly influenced by media in every
way in our decision-making process.
These days, turning on the news channels and watching the prime-time programs is no less than
watching some drunkards shouting and howling at each other trying to put each other down.
Each news channel sets its agenda and propagates the issue. There is never a fair discussion. No
one is given the chance to express their views or clarify their stand on certain issues. One who
can outshout the other wins. No matter how baseless he or she can be. Even the anchor who is
the moderator has its own views and projects them. This is actually not fair given the
responsibilities of the media in the biggest democracy.
Indian media has become extremely politicized and it shows their irresponsibility. Media is
considered the fourth estate. It should be neutral rather than taking sides. The media should not
abuse its freedom and power by being biased. There should be a fair and free press. It is the
biggest requirement in any democracy.
Propaganda is a term that has become so commonplace, hardly a day passes that it is not
mentioned in the newspapers or tossed about in conversation. Its meaning ranges from
“something somebody is trying to put across on a person” to “a systematic attempt to influence
opinion or attitude in the interest of some cause.” It is in a sense closer to the latter definition that
legislators tend to use the word. The politician has an uneasy feeling about using the word to
describe the activities of his own group; he discredits the activities of his opponents by calling
these activities propaganda.
The United States would not plan to spend an estimated $100,00,000 in 1958 on international
propaganda if it did not believe so. The Soviet Union spends an even greater amount, and there is
hardly a state so poor that it does not earmark some funds to be used in an attempt to influence
foreign opinions and attitudes in its favor. Most governments also encourage their citizens to
engage in private propaganda aimed at promoting the good of the nation. Besides all this money
into international propaganda, states have gone out of the way to sign treaties, especially since
World War I, making important concessions to other states in exchange for vague freedom from
propaganda. Publicists have argued vigorously on whether international propaganda, public or
private, is admissible in international law.
International Propaganda, in other words, the world is convicted today that propaganda is no
mere talk. Propaganda can cast doubts into the minds of people. It can also be used to promote
international goodwill. And many international agreements have been signed, and resolutions
adopted, calling upon the signatories to conduct various types of propaganda to its end. The art
of international propaganda has been refined in recent years and the attitude toward it has
changed, especially since World War II; so that a fresh look at the activity and its control is
significant at this time. An account of legal and diplomatic maneuvers in the attempt to control
international propaganda-especially when they are so numerous and monotonously repetitive-is
not always fascinating reading. But justice cannot be done to the topic without bringing out the
very frequency of certain attempts. The history of international propaganda activities is
examined briefly to give the topic perspective, and the propaganda agencies of the United States,
Britain, and the Soviet Union-the most active states in the field-are described to show the scope
of such activities in the world today.
At present, international propaganda is controllable and controlled by domestic courts, under the
municipal laws of states. While the chapter on the municipal control propaganda by no means
covers all the domestic legislation on the subject, a broad enough selection of the laws of the
various states has been included to show how well governments have fortified themselves
against the darts of international propaganda.
Interpretation of Data
“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”
- Mark Twain
This statement by Mark Twain contributes largely to the present situation of Indian media. In the
scope of contemporary evaluation of Indian Media, it is evident that the media houses focus on
blatant use of statistics over facts. The analysis of the aforementioned observation is related to
the source and means of these resources. Statistics are recognized as the data that are obtained
from a source that is generally unreliable and vague on the other hand facts are verified and well-
researched information of which the originators or founders stand accountable. Statistics are
widely available in comparison to facts, which are hard to obtain, and it is due to this scarcity
media houses generally tow towards statistics. The other major reason for favoring statistics over
facts is that; facts are rigid whereas statistics are malleable; therefore the media houses explicitly
interpret statistics to achieve their desired conclusion.
Almost everybody has to count on the media for the information important to the shaping of
popular opinion. Because journals are available at a very cheap price, their effect on molding
opinions has grown with the spread of mass education. Most newspapers print reports of
parliamentary discussions, addresses by eminent figures, government and party declarations, and
other articles. Not all of them are democratic, but even the best for consumption are political
facts. Each newspaper is therefore very busy collecting political news and producing delicious
dishes. The only purpose is not to reflect the truth, but rather to portray and systematize them in a
However, there are no flaws in the press. Indeed, it is sometimes noted that newspapers only
have one purpose nowadays. They are constantly involved in the role of keeping a certain kind of
readers on whom they rely. In order to attract the favor of readers, any possible form and means
are embraced. Each journal thus establishes its own dedication, which worships it under the
assumption that it brings products to them. Another critique that the newspapers are being
criticized is that their publication has been a large enterprise and they are, for the most part, the
properties of the 'capitalistic elite.' As is also noted, "The volume of impartial facts and equitable
thought, in general, is limited and the press has gained exceptional control over opinion,
worsening its failures rather than fixing them." A free press is definitely a key agency for public
policy formation and the preservation of democracy.
However, it is getting increasingly tough to ensure a free media because of this false
interpretation operation which is further forcing media houses, even those who want to operate
freely and ethically, to operate on bias and unethically due to strong competition and corporate
pressure. Therefore in order to promote true and fair media we, as citizens, further have to
appreciate true journalism and further substantiate the misinterpretation of statistics or
misrepresentation of facts.
Forming Propaganda with the Regionalization of media
The regionalization of media has vastly contributed to forming propaganda since the regional
and customary practices of a group are the ones from which the group is most attached and
therefore any operatives in his regional preference will impact the consumer with a large hit.
Although the regional media was very strong at the time of independence in India since there
was no strong central resource as the British officials always tried to weaken the press. But post
the colonial period and growing demand for news, the media started to get centralized and
focused on national news and stories. This national news was not as comprehensive as the
regional news but covered the situation with a neutral export which was highly unlikely in the
case of regional media; which majorly focused on pleasing the local audience.
In contemporary times the media is again shifting towards regionalization since several houses
are no concerned with making neutral and substantive news rather they want to form
propaganda. Therefore, in the course of forming propaganda, it becomes necessary to create a
desired public opinion, and as mentioned previously in order to create a desired public opinion a
customary or regional practice is targeted. In several cases, these regional practices are generally
the language or attire of the anchor.
This practice of gaining regional popularity is neither exclusive nor the genesis of media rather it
evidently exists in several other fields such as politics where several leaders support a cause or
campaign generally to establish their regional support for a particular community, that they
aspire to make their vote bank.
The credibility of Media Trial
The media is considered the fourth pillar of democracy has become the backbone of the news
industry and plays a very important role in the public eyes and ears. The first question that arises
that to what extend can media use the freedom given under article 19(1)(a). There are being
many instances recently and in the past also that have compelled us compelled us to raise
questions on media regarding the violation of their rights. Various judges have also discussed
this accept in their decision whether the right to press violets right to privacy of the individual.
Media has now reincarnated itself into a public court which can also be referred to as; JanataAdalat and has started interfering in court proceedings so much that they announce their
own verdict even before the court does. In present times we observe trials by media itself
conducts their own separate investigation which builds a public opinion against the accused even
before the court. In many cases the person is innocent, but it is already proven guilty by the
media and the people also believe it and this has a huge impact on the person's image the person
life is basically spoiled because the person has been proven guilty by the media even the person
is innocent. This clearly violates the person's right to a fair trial which every individual right
there is excessive use of the right to freedom of speech, and it is affecting the other person's life
which is not right.
In India, trial by media has assumed significant proportions. Some famous criminal cases that
would have gone unpunished but for the intervention of media are the Priyadarshini Mattoo case,
Jessica Lal case, NitishKatara murder case, and Bijal Joshi rape case. In these cases, media
played a very important role and helped the people to get justice at a time when these cases were
In this context, a distinct observation was made by a Division Bench of the Supreme Court
comprising of Justices P. Sathasivam and Swatanter Kumar in their judgment in the Jessica Lal
case whereby the duty and role played by the media while reporting a case was brought out
stating that "Presumption of innocence of an accused is a legal presumption and should not be
destroyed at the very threshold through the process of media trial and that too when the
investigation is pending. In that event, it will be opposed to the very basic rule of law and would
impinge upon the protection granted to an accused under Article 21 ". The Bench cautioned that,
"every effort should be made by the print and electronic media to ensure that the distinction
between trial by media and informative media is always maintained". Media will render great
service if it observes the Lakshman Rekha charted by the Supreme Court. By stating the above
the court clearly spoke about the responsibility shouldered to media and the limitations to be kept
in mind by the media while reporting a case.
• Accuracy of the case shall be maintained and verified before the same is
reported/published and read of all.
• Every caution shall be undertaken to avoid any writing that is opinion based i.e., either
favoring or defaming any person/party.
• Right to privacy shall not be interfered with.
• Accuracy is of utmost importance while reporting court proceedings.
• Reports based on mere suspicion or opinion shall not be published.
• Appreciation of an act of violence shall be avoided always.
Contemporary Anchor-Reporter Dichotomy
1. A Reporter is one who gathers news on current events and an anchor is a person who just
sits down in front of the camera and delivers the news to the people.
2. The reporters have to cast their voices and even write the scripts of the news that they
have collected. On the other hand, the anchor does not have to write the script.
3. The job of an anchor is more prestigious and high paid.
4. In order to become an anchor, a person should have good looks or a good personality as
his face is more seen by viewers. A reporter should have the nose to smell news around.
Anchor and reporter are part of news channels. Sometimes the anchor may adorn the role of a
reporter and vice versa. But it is quite rare that a reporter adorns the grab of an anchor. Though
the anchor and the reporter could change sides, they are totally different in many respects. A
reporter is one who gathers news on current events and an anchor is a person who just sits down
in front of the camera and delivers the news to the people. An anchor is also called an
anchorman, anchorwoman, news presenter, and newsreader. A reporter travels around collecting
news whereas the anchor just sits in the studio and reads out the news that has been collected. A
reporter gets news through many ways like press conferences, interviews, handouts and other
ways. The reporters have to cast their voices and even write the scripts of the news that they have
collected. On the other hand, the anchor does not have to write the script. Sometimes the anchor
also does the job of writing news but only in rare cases.
When comparing the two jobs, the job of an anchor is more prestigious and high paid. The skills
required for becoming an anchor are different from that of a reporter. In order to become an
anchor, a person should have good looks or a good personality as his face is more seen by
viewers. An anchor should have the capacity to be always comfortable while facing the camera
even during tense situations. Moreover, an anchor should have good communication skills. A
reporter should have the nose to smell news around. They have to maintain good contacts with
their sources so that they get the news before any person gets it. Moreover, he should have a good
command of the language.