Deccan Herald: A Case of <Insert Synonym for BAD > Journalism

I have very strong opinions about the standard (or lack of it) of journalism- both in TV and Print media- that widely prevail today. Having returned to Bangalore a couple of weeks back, I found myself excited to be holding a local newspaper in my hands and learning who has been making the news and for what reasons. One of the local newspapers I subscribe to is Deccan Herald. Since as long as I can remember, it has been widely acknowledged that Deccan Herald provides the best coverage of the local news. Fair enough. And so I didnt exactly feel anything out of place when it decided to give front page coverage to a local news item. The news item in question was this“Lalbagh to lose trees for a ‘Sentosa’ look”. It  was dated May 24 2010. And here is what it had to say:

It is a perfect case of the fence eating the crop. The Horticulture Department, which shoulders the responsibility of protecting and preserving Lalbagh Gardens, is set to axe the precious green cover in the State’s only botanical gardens.

…..the department will chop off nearly 10 full-grown trees to make way for a musical fountain and a laser show. However, the department has kept this fact under wraps, fearing protests. Even Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has not been informed about the need for cutting the trees for the project, it is said.

The department simultaneously wants to develop a rock garden on the Kempe Gowda monolithic at the cost of Rs 29.30 crore. The plan is to ensure that people watch the laser show sitting on the proposed rock garden. The department’s plan has come close on the heels of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation cutting over a dozen trees for the metro rail project. The garden shrunk by 350 metres and lost 15 trees as a result.

Now anybody in their normal senses will interpret this article as a measure taken by a Government body and which is going to cause damage to the environment. The article makes it appear that the Horticulture Department is conspiring against public opinion in order to execute a project based on self interest.  It makes it look that this new proposed project (rock garden and musical fountain) is an evil thing and that a  Govt body is to be held accountable for intending to go ahead with it. This should not come as a surprise at all as every day one can read many such articles in newspapers across India.

However, what did surprise me (and to no bounds) was what I read in the same newspaper, Deccan Herald, the very next day on the front page itself. In a complete U-turn on the stand it took the previous day, Deccan Herald carried this news item (written by the same dude) which was headlined as “GSI dashes State’s Lalbagh dreams”.

With the the Geological Survey of India (GSI) around, it may not be all that easy for the State Horticulture Department to realise its dream project — a musical fountain and a rock garden at the Lalbagh Gardens.

Any work on the monumental Kempe Gowda rock requires a GSI nod, and the department has made no efforts so far to seek it. According to GSI, the proposed fountain and rock garden might pose a threat to the rock.

Yes you read that right! What was one day before a “perfect case of the fence eating the crop”,  suddenly became a “dream project”! This new article now tries to paint a picture wherein the Horticulture Department aims to realize its “dream project” but that it is inept enough not to obtain the permission of the Geological Society of India for the same. Nowhere in the article is there a mention of the trees that would have to make way for the  rock garden/ musical fountain. All it does is to make the State Govt. appear so as to be looking to do something big but not being adept at obtaining all the necessary permissions. There is not a single ounce of criticism from the writer about the project itself anywhere in the article. In fact, the writer seems to endorse the project, only complaining about the inability of the State Govt to get the necessary permission.

If this isnt a case of disgusting/unethical/substandard/<insert synonym for BAD> journalism, I dont know what is. I am sure I can find many more cases, which may in fact be worse than this, but there is really no excuse for what we see here. It appears that the writer wanted to make some news out of the proposed project and so decided to paint two contradictory pictures on consecutive days. My question is this: Does the writer actually take us readers to be so dumb as to not be able to spot the difference? Or perhaps, looking at it differently, is this newspaper  meant for people dumb enough not to spot these glaring contradictions?

<5 Seconds of Thinking later>

MORAL OF THE STORY: I am not reading Deccan Herald anymore. Strongly suggest you decide if you  belong to the “Dumb people” category or not as well.