588 – Verifying News

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Verifying News

Media is often referred to as the fourth pillar in a democracy. They have a key role to play in monitoring and investigating the actions of those in power and informing citizens about them. Unfortunately, corruption has begun to influence news reporting during the last two decades.

Types of corruption in the media vary from bribery in the form of cash for news, staged or fake news, gift giving, concealed advertisement and advertisements to nepotism and media capture by vested private or political interests.

Corruption in media is not a new phenomenon. But during the last two decades, corruption has become institutionalized. Previously, when the Government had control over Media, people were able to get only the Government version of the events. With the opening up of the Media to private players, though the speed and quality of news reporting has improved a lot, a high element of prejudice and bias in reporting had set in. Opinions reported as news, quotes from unconfirmed sources, planted stories, selective quotes, orchestrated debates have become commonplace in media discourses. The alleged involvement of leading luminaries of Main Stream  Media in financial scandals with politicians suggests the depth of the problem. Even Social media like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp suffer this bias.

Today, with a plethora of media channels, the reader/viewer does not know, which one to believe in. He has to rely on more than one source and form his own opinion/judgement on the events.

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 588,  suggests that, a King (read a Citizen) should not blindly accept a spy’s (read news reporter’s) version. Thiruvalluvar concedes an element of bias can inadvertently influence a spy’s reporting. He therefore suggests, that a King should confirm and verify such news, with more than one source.

ஒற்றுஒற்றித் தந்த பொருளையும் மற்றும்ஓர்
ஒற்றினால் ஒற்றிக் கொளல்

Otru-otrith Thandha Porulaiyum Matrum-oar
Otrinaal Otrik Kolal

பரிமேலழகர் உரை: 

ஒற்று ஒற்றித் தந்த பொருளையும் – ஒரொற்றன் ஒற்றிவந்து அறிவித்த காரியந்தன்னையும்; மற்றும் ஓர் ஒற்றனால் ஒற்றிக் கொளல் – பிறனோர் ஒற்றனாலும் ஒற்றுவித்து ஒப்புமை கண்டுகொள்க. (ஒற்றப்பட்டாரோடு ஒத்து நின்று மாறுபடக் கூறலும் கூடுமாகலின், ஒருவன் மாற்றம் தேறப்படாது என்பதாம்.).

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

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