It is amazing how media, whether print or television can direct or even transform views of millions through artfully crafted concepts. Lead India Campaign by Times of India (TOI) is one of such simple yet powerful examples. Its innovative videos became cult classic. Paper advert campaign running in parallel was equally influential. ‘None for the road’ campaign by Hindustan times is also one of a kind. It really hammers the drunken driving issue and makes you think. Not only big campaigns but also small, innovative and motivational reports can create huge impact on the way people see things. Yet in spite of being such a powerful weapon, can credibility and quality of media content always be trusted or justified?
Let us consider one recent example. An article in TOI, “scientifically proven: Bradman is the greatest batsman of all time”, made an immediate impact on my friend. She argued that if anything is ‘scientifically proven’ it HAS to be correct. But is it the case? A similar analysis (say, scientific study) done on one of the most popular sports websites (ESPN Cricinfo) determines Vinod Kambli as the greatest batsman ever. How many of us even remember Vinod Kambli that well? Results are very much dependent upon criteria used for the study and different people have different opinions about choosing that criteria. Readers can form unbiased opinions only when they are provided with critical expert views about the matter of concern. Although I do not doubt Bradman’s greatness, it is lack of peer review of news that disturbs me.
Now, cricket is certainly not the most vital of the issues. But how often do we see comments from the nuclear scientist, environmentalist, diplomat, lawyer, and a medical researcher on current governmental nuclear policy in the newspaper? Do these news agencies think that the general reader is not worthy of such insight or is it just a lack of effort from their end to provide complete coverage? What I would like to say here is that we need some expert opinions, a peer review system for articles being published, especially when they make bold claims. Otherwise this information can be seriously misleading. Almost always experts in the various fields are ready to give opinions about ongoing important issues, and that too, free of cost. In this era, when print media is struggling for survival, making information and news more reliable can not only save them but can also empower their readers with strong knowledge base to make well informed decisions.