How media mislead us?
In the last few decades the country has made significant advancements in sectors like Education, Garments Industry, Health, and Women Empowerment. Like these sectors, media industry also has made significant advancements both in terms of quality and quantity. Once, manipulated information by controlled media such as BTV used to dupe mass people. But the scenario has changed a lot in last one decade as people now are getting same information from multiple media and sources. Currently more than 30 TV channels, 3025 newspapers and around 2000 online news portals are now shaping audience's way of thinking.
Undoubtedly this growth has been applauded by many of us considering the prospects like employment generation, competition for investigative reports, increasing readerships or viewers etc. But the other side of coin is, the pressure of increasing revenue and advertisements, reaching to audience very fast especially by online news portals can also hamper accuracy, tendency of citing inaccurate information, uploading incorrect photo, publishing fake news etc. All the factors tend to reduce the level of credibility of media.
To illustrate, during the recent Road Safety movement, press wing of Prime Minister Office had to issue press release warning over spreading fake news by some news portals like Bangla Mail 71, Zoom Bangla news portal, Andolon news etc. Those news portals and some facebook, Twiter page were also traced by security agencies for spreading rumor over student's death, wrong message of PM during the movement. Similar allegation was also raised from government and security agencies during the quota reform movement. However, it is very inspiring that none of our leading media published fake news during the Safe Road Movement.
Though the role of leading media in the Safe Road Movement has been quite professional, in some other cases it could not meet expectations of readers. It is a fact that, in line with the growth of media, professionalism of journalists has enhanced. But it becomes unfortunate for readers when they find leading newspapers and online publishes fake news e.g. BCS cadre abandoned his mother or the death of popular actors A T M Sammuzaman. Even in some cases, designated journalist and gatekeepers could not even trace the satire and uploaded those as news in their respective media.
Accuracy is one of the major principles of objective news but unfortunately it was missing in several news. Daily Star Online (Bangla) in one of its football match reports on 1 August 2018 between Roma and Barcelona stated that Roma convincingly won but unfortunately the caption in social media had the information as 'Barcelona won over Roma' contradictory with the report and headline. Apart from being inaccurate in terms of information in report, there were also few news where readers were duped by leading newspapers through its headlines.
For instance, Bangladesh Pratidin published a report titled 'Hero Alam in Remand'. 'Remand' was actually the name of the movie where he is supposed to act. The newspaper did not use the symbol (!) which is a common practice in such news that forced readers to conclude, Hero Alam actually is in the remand. Undoubtedly it can be argued that news was misleading for readers and this newspaper did such in a bid to increase readership.
In addition to misleading readers through headlines Bangladesh Pratidin has made mistakes like giving inappropriate image and inconsistent captions. In the news titled 'one segment of student league boycotts 21st February program at SUST' shared in social media had some information on diabetic food and other related information as caption. In other news, 'Samsung to bring one-thousand-unit FPS camera' had a cover photo of Mushfiqur Rahman, a national cricket team player which was also contradictory with headline.
Most probably, ETV was more unprofessional regarding uses of appropriate images in news. Similar to the mistakes of Bangladesh Pratidin, ETV online in a news of Alia Bhatt used picture of Salman Muktadir, an actor and youtuber of Bangladesh. In another similar mistake, a cover photo of 3 city mayor candidate of AL has been used instead of seminar on Archeology at Jaganaath University. Likewise, the seminar news ETV online incorporated a cover photo of umpire and bowler of a cricket match though the news actually was on charge sheet of Muhammed Zafar Iqbal attack.
During the city corporation election of Gazipur, Channel 71 broadcasted the name of Ivy Rahman (current city of Mayor of Narayanganj City Corporation) in tv scroll instead of Jahangir Alam the actual candidate from ruling party AL. Bangladesh Post, a national newspaper in a report published Mr. Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the adviser to PM Information and Communication Technology (ICT) name as Sajeeb Ahmed Joy. It is really also disheartening for readers when we find few local news of Bangladesh been uploaded in the international news category by online news portal like RTV e.g. 39th BCS will held will held on Friday, Senior joins the junior's movements at Shahbagh.
Generally, we expect that years of experience in the field of journalism will enrich professionalism of our journalists. But the cruel reality is, still our leading media outlets are making mistakes like publishing fake news, citing inaccurate information, uploading incorrect photo, violating media ethics etc. Even it is more unfortunate for us when we find leading online like The Daily Star, Bangladesh Pratidin, and Channel 71 makes those mistakes. So, it is very obvious that readers will not rate those media as credible after experiencing those errors.
Above mentioned examples reveal the fact that online news portals had the most errors than print. Undoubtedly, it can be concluded that tendency of putting news fast, poor editorial policy, lack of editing skills were some major reasons of misleading headlines, fake news, inaccurate information etc. Gate keepers now must be more careful than ever while publishing news. There is also an urgent need to review editorial policy that will safe readers from being the victims of fake news, misleading headlines, inaccurate information.
The writer is a former student of Mass Communication and Journalism at Dhaka University