OUR MEDIA ... NOT SO BAD?

OUR MEDIA ... NOT SO BAD? Late last week, the media was abuzz with news of outsourcing on its own front -- two reporters in New Delhi would be reporting on local events in Pasadena, CA. The new issue of Columbia Journalism Review, however, has an article by Basharat Peer explaining why Indian journalism is not so great and serious Indian journalists need to look to the British and American media:

The typical cover story in an Indian news magazine does not exceed 2,000 words. When President Bush visited India in March 2006, op-ed and editorial writers celebrated the U.S.'s acceptance of of India's nuclear energy program. Stories of the "Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal" dominated the print and broadcast media. But no one was writing, for example, about the unusually high rates of cancer and birth defects among the people working in and living near India's biggest uranium mine at Jadugoda ... It's no coincidence that foreign journalists produce much of the best journalism about the difficult issues facing India.

Indian writers who are serious about doing in-depth journalism also must look to foreign venues to find a home for their work ... The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, or the British literary magazine Granta.

... the American media was severely criticized for their failure to dig into [Abu Ghrab] earlier. The criticism was justified by American standards, but I had my own reasons for celebrating for what the U.S. press did, however flawed. ... During the last seventeen years of the conflict in Kashmir, I have read many Indian newspapers and magazines but have yet to see a single magazine piece or detailed newspaper report in the Indian Press examining the issue of torture.

So maybe our media -- imperfect though it is -- isn't so bad.

-- Kay Steiger

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