The chief minister (CM) of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been in the headlines for his prompt decisions, these days.
On March 27 and March 28, 2017, leading news channels like Aaj Tak, Zee News and India TV reported that the new CM has taken 50 decisions without a meeting with the Cabinet. However, none of these channels, except Aaj Tak, listed out all 50 decisions.
Zee News and India TV listed around 20 of those decisions in their reports. Needless to say, a lot has been happening in Uttar Pradesh. However, these events should not be reasons for exaggerated news coverage.
Although some of these decisions (such as the crackdown on bureaucrats) have been appreciated, the other decisions based on religious agendas have led to concerns. In any case, news reports on these decisions have serious flaws, which may lead people to misinterpret them.
Zee News and Aaj Tak mentioned ’24 hours (India TV used the word ‘uninterrupted’) of electricity supply during Navratri and Ram Navami’ as one of the 50 decisions. However, the report didn’t clarify that it won’t be supplied all across the state. As The Hindu reports, the state’s power minister informed that the uninterrupted supply would be limited only to the ‘key districts’ of the state. The idea is to help the many pilgrims that come to these districts. These key districts are- Ayodhya, Gorakhpur, Mathura, Varanasi, Balrampur and Mirzapur.
Zee News reported that ‘more than 100 stained policemen were suspended in Noida, Meerut, Lucknow and Ghaziabad’. Referring to the suspended policemen as ‘black sheep’, Hindustan Times, among others, reported that the news had been sourced from the Press Trust of India. However, none of these reports mentioned the actual reason for the suspension, or why they were called ‘black sheep’ or termed as ‘stained’.
Another report stated that the former CM, Akhilesh Yadav, had accused Yogi’s government of targetting officials from a ‘particular caste’. It highlighted the case of Himanshu Kumar, an IPS officer, who was suspended for ‘indiscipline’.
Zee News and Aaj Tak also reported the construction of ‘a network of roads for all the villages in UP’ as one of the decisions. Interestingly, this decision has not been reported by any other major news channel.
Furthermore, BJP’s election manifesto doesn’t make any such promise. The manifesto only talks about a ‘road corridor’ that will connect four districts of northern Uttar Pradesh – Mathura, Kashi, Gorakhpur and Jhansi.
Some of the points presented as ‘decisions’ (by Zee News and Aaj Tak) in their reports are ‘suggestive’ in nature. For example, ‘teachers should strengthen guru-shishya (teacher-pupil) tradition’ sounds more like a suggestion than a decision.
Similarly, instructions reportedly given to the police ‘to walk two kilometres daily’ is ‘suggestive’ rather than ‘decisive’. This list of 50 ‘decisions’, which Aaj Tak possesses, has some more ‘suggestions’ like these.
Some of the points were left ‘open-ended’ without explanations or descriptions. An example would be the decision to ‘increase facilities in jails’. This is absurd, because the report did not state what facilities would be increased in jails. Besides, points such as these weren’t mentioned by other news channels.
Lastly, these reports reinforce the fact that news is becoming more ‘opinionative’ than ‘informative’. For example, when India TV began a report with the words, ‘in a clear attempt to bring about a change in the functioning of the state government machinery’, it becomes evident that the channel was ‘opining’ before, and not ‘informing’, its viewers.