During an aggressive speech in Parliament on March 6, 2013, Dr. Manmohan Singh said of the opposition BJP, “Jo garajte hain, woh baraste nahin.” This was correctly translated into English in most sections of the media as “Thundering clouds do not produce rain.” However, a leading Indian website reported it as “Jo garajte hain, woh baraste nahin (Barking dogs seldom bite)”.
Provided that person carefully read the actual Hindi words, any person familiar with Hindi would know that Dr. Singh meant “Thundering clouds do not produce rain.” However, a person not knowing Hindi would have believed that Dr. Manmohan Singh had said, “Barking dogs seldom bite” in Hindi. This could have incited passions and might have even led to violent exchanges between overenthusiastic supporters of the BJP and the Congress. If you think I’m exaggerating, please read this report about how an opinion poll published in a newspaper led to a violent attack on the newspaper’s office, leading to the death of three employees.
The media has a duty to report correctly. Unfortunately, the intense desire to be the first to report, to capture as many eyeballs as possible, and to look smarter than the competition results in inaccurate reporting, sensationalism, grammatical mistakes, spelling mistakes.
In one case, the word ‘illicit’ was used instead of ‘elicit’!
In another instance, the word ‘principle’ was used instead of ‘principal’.
A headline in a highly respected daily said, ‘Banks should only be allowed to take deposits’. From the contents of the report, it was clear the headline should have been ‘Only banks should be allowed to take deposits’.
These mistakes appear trivial when compared to what happened on Sunday, October 06, 2013. I was shocked to read “President Abdul Kalam Azad” printed in an article by a former senior bureaucrat in a leading national newspaper! I cannot believe that a senior bureaucrat could have referred to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as “President Abdul Kalam Azad”. I find it almost equally difficult, if not impossible to believe that whoever edited this article could have approved this. Who is responsible for such a blunder: the Editor of the newspaper or some junior employee?
To err is human, but isn’t there a system of editing/checking before publishing? Can’t these reputed media houses employ sufficient numbers of competent persons to carefully edit every news item that is published?
I have deliberately refrained from naming the publications in which these blunders appeared because most publications are guilty on this count.
After seeing such blunders, how can We The People believe that the media actually does Whatever It Takes to be an efficient watchdog? The Nation wants to know!