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Are Donald Trump’s Claims About The Media Justified? – OpEd

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Donald Trump, the Republican front runner in the US Presidential nomination race, is reported to have said that the media is the most dishonest of all people.

He further said that the media would show a “huge crowd” only if there were protesters. Trump further said sarcastically, “I think I must get my own protesters to my rallies……. Only then, the media turns to the crowd. I can then go on to claim that the crowd is 20000 to 30000 strong, when there would be 7000 to 10000 people usually.”

Certainly, the media persons isn’t favorable to Trump’s comment and at least some of them could perhaps be justified in developing a sort of anger and hostility towards Trump. However, the number of people around the world who are not part of media and who watch the style and behavior of the media may tend to agree with Trump, to some extent.

Section of media remain suspect

While the statement of Trump’s that the media are the most dishonest of all people is too harsh and exaggerated, the fact remains that a section of media remains suspect in the eyes of the people. This perception has been steadily increasing in recent years, as businesses or politicians increasingly own the media houses and the paid professional journalists have to necessarily reflect the views and priorities of the media owners.

With India now passing through a stage of what appears to be a chaotic and noisy democracy and with the Indian media even more louder than the media in the US, Indian media is also being increasingly accused of carrying out motivated news and often publishing views as news. There are even serious allegations in India of media succumbing to the temptation of publishing what is now notoriously known as “paid news.”

Gaining importance of social media

With the print and visual media steadily losing credibility and of increasingly being criticized for not publishing news and comments in a fair and objective manner, people are increasingly looking to social media.

Of course, social media is not the ultimate solution for the inadequacies of the print and visual media, as social media often carries ill-informed, motivated and extremist views and is free for all without any system of checks and controls.

Media should take note of comment of Trump

Donald Trump has the courage of conviction to say his strong views with respect to the media, which may not be diplomatic or clever for a politician to say in the midst of a very competitive US Presidential election. Probably, Trump does not expect much support from US media and perhaps, he thinks that the media around the world will carry his views in a bigger way, as the media is increasingly being seen to be seeking to highlight sensational news and controversial events and adverse developments.

Nevertheless, it would be appropriate for the media around the world, particularly among the media personnel in India and US, to take note of the sharp remarks of Trump and do some introspection about it’s role and responsibilities.

Let not media lose it’s pride of place

Certainly, the media has a very positive and constructive role to play in molding public opinion and interpreting the developing scenario in an appropriate manner. The media has a huge responsibility and as such there are expectations for the media by the people.

The media loses it’s pride of place if it reflects the personal priorities of the owners and the journalists in the publication merely follow the owners lead. The media shouldn’t publish merely out of spite or revenge or with the objective of highlighting and providing more space to bad news at the cost of positive developments, to provide sensation and boost circulation and viewership.

As such, the media has to necessarily take note of the comments of Trump — as ignoring his comments and carrying on in the same style could amount to cutting off one’s nose to spite the face.

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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