Headlines are meant to stare at you, sort of look you in the eye, and tell a story as it is in the least possible number of words. But there are some headlines that scream at you, demanding immediate attention, sort of like an aggressive sow with scarlet lipstick and mascara. The chai — or coffee, if that’s your favourite morning brew — can wait. So it was with newspapers on Saturday morning. “CAG raps Gujarat Government for Rs 17,000 crore losses” screamed the headline on the front page of a leading daily published from Delhi. The headline for the same story in the web version of the newspaper had transmogrified into: “CAG raps Narendra Modi Government for Rs 17,000 crore losses”. Having grabbed the reader’s attention, the newspaper tells a story that makes the following points:
This is a classic example of how to write a slanted story, or give a spin to a story that nobody would otherwise read. Snatch a couple of sentences from two voluminous reports; add some carefully selected statistical data; pick a couple of out-of-context comments; shake it all up, and, voila, you have a story that suits your purpose. Give the story a tantalising headline and that purpose is served. All this is premised on the belief, not entirely misplaced, that most readers will read the headline, form an opinion, and move on; those who will read the story will not bother to cross-check facts; and, the few who will take the trouble of accessing the CAG’s reports, plod through them and come to the conclusion that the newspaper has been less than truthful, can do little or nothing to enforce a correction, leave alone a retraction.
So, what do the CAG reports really say? Here’s how the audit findings should have been interpreted instead of being presented as a chargesheet that indicts the Government of Gujarat, more specifically Narendra Modi. The State Government has not tried to fudge the fact that the CAG has observed that heavy losses have been incurred by GSRTC, GSFC and Alcock Ashdown Gujarat Ltd. But there are reasons, according to the Government, why these PSUs have incurred recurring losses, and those need to be mentioned to present the full picture:
The Government of Gujarat has pointed out how the CAG’s reports have brought the following points to light, but they do not find any mention in the manipulated media reports:
There’s more to the story, but do newspapers care? They would rather don scarlet lipstick and mascara to grab attention.
(courtesy : http://www.dailypioneer.com/)
Kanchan Gupta shepherds diverse opinion and analysis on the Editorial and Opeditorial pages of The Pioneer. During a break from journalism he served in the PMO as an aide to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and as Director of Maulana Azad Centre in Cairo. His blog, Agent Provocateur, reflects his political views. Among the blogs he keenly follows is Usual Suspects. His Twitter handle is twitter.com/KanchanGupta
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