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How a recent study shows inherent biases of Western media when it comes to reporting about India

The Western media’s bias against India has once again been highlighted in a report published by the country’s top institute for Media and Communication, Indian Institute for Mass Communication {IIMC} in its latest issue of the quarterly media journal Communicator.

Here’s a look at what the report states and how the Western media continues its prejudiced reportage when it comes to events in India vis-à-vis the world.

Findings of the IIMC report

Titled ‘Analysis of Global Media Coverage of Events in India’, the report written by journalist and media analyst Amol Parth outlines the alleged irrational global media coverage of socio-political developments in India through facts and figures.

Analysing over 3,000 reports from various international publications such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, TIME magazine, The Guardian, BBC, the analysis shows that there is a prejudice in reportage and also a tendency of having exaggerated headlines with minimal substance in the story to support the doomsday prophecies in their headlines.

The report states that these publications have used most negative and divisive words for its ridicule of India.

In 500 headlines, it was found that the most used words were these 10:

  • Fear

  • Hate

  • Violence

  • Riot

  • Hindu

  • Muslim

  • Kashmir

  • Cow

  • Mob

  • Protest

The report says that from this it can be inferred 'that these foreign media outlets have been trying to exploit the alleged fault lines within India, looking for controversies and potential contentious issues, which may catch more eyeballs'.

Another fact that the report highlights is that despite India's several leaps in space exploration, these publications still continue to portray India as cattle class.

One such example is the September 2014 cartoon published by The New York Times 'India's Budget Mission to Mars'. This wasn't to appreciate the fact that India became the first in Asia to reach Mars.

In fact, the cartoon showed an Indian farmer with a cow knocking at the door of so-called 'Elite Space Club'.

Another example of the bias or prejudice in reportage was evident in BBC’s photo story of April 2021, which came with the disclaimer that the images in the article may be disturbing to some. The article screamed 'harrowing scenes from India show the extent of the crisis gripping the nation as the second wave of coronavirus brings the death toll to over 200,000.

However, such reporting was missing when lakhs of people died in the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020 in the US, UK and Europe. There was no screaming headlines, no harrowing images or opinion pieces about how the respective governments had failed.

In fact, a previous survey by the IIMC in July of last year had said that 82 per cent media persons believe that the coverage of COVID-19 pandemic in India by a section of the Western media is ‘biased’. A total of 69 per cent had said India’s image took a beating by such negative coverage, while 56 per cent said such coverage must have negatively influenced the opinion of the Indians living abroad.


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