What is your information diet?

You know that if a salesman comes calling, he will not give you balanced information about his wares. He will not only sing praises of his products, but he may also run down competing products. He may also manipulate your fears and anxieties to influence your thinking. He may throw in freebies too. If you are a discerning buyer you will ask around and crosscheck those claims before you decide to buy.

If you know that your morning newspaper is owned by a business group or a politician will you still rely on what it says to form your opinions? Chances are that you will,  because you heard about this freedom of press and editorial independence. You should know that the editorial independence has long been shown door along with every editor who didn’t obey His Master’s Voice.

For example:

See http://mumbaiboss.com/2012/10/04/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-toi-but-were-too-afraid-to-have-confirmed/

“The business model. The Jains view The Times of India more as a purveyor of advertising than news. “We are not in the newspaper business, we are in the advertising business,” Vineet Jain says baldly, adding that “if 90 per cent of your revenues come for advertising, you’re in the advertising business”. He also observes, “If you are editorially minded, you will make all the wrong decisions.”

Yes, he is right. 90% of his revenue comes from advertising. When you pay Rs 3 for your morning newspaper the owner earns Rs 27 from his advertisements. Why should be then bother about you getting unbiased and full information?

The problem is not just about the influence  of business. Politicians find the appeal of appearing in news irresistible. Advertising is expensive and only CMs and PMs and ministers can get away by issuing them in ‘public interest’ . Politicians find paying for ownership much cheaper than advertising and what better way of using their often ill gotten wealth? It also gives a big big ego boost to them. Owning a newspaper or a TV channel is not to be sneezed at.

See: http://hillpost.in/2013/08/top-7-indian-channels-that-are-owned-by-politicians/95166/

“Instead of paying for advertisement in the form of news, politicians have decided that it is much more economical to just own television channels. The list of channels owned directly or indirectly by politicians is a very long one. Almost all news channels are owned either directly or indirectly by politicians.”

So shouldn’t you be wary about whatever you read or see in media? These days you don’t read or watch -you consume media exactly in the same way as consuming toothpaste; manipulated by brand warriors, unthinkingly.

Question to you: What is your information diet? Is your opinion really yours? Do you really have freedom of expression when your thoughts have been manipulated? 

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