newspapers in india

When it is time to leave these shores, the newspapers in India are something I will miss. I love them. We get two every day: The Hindu and The Times of India. They provide the best newspaper-reading experience I've had anywhere, just shading the UK into second place.


Why?

First, a general response. They respect my intellect. They have not succumbed to the dumbing-down that afflicts so much of the media - be it print, online, or television - in the so-called western world. I read the NZ newspapers online, mainly the New Zealand Herald and a site, appropriately called Stuff. It is not a stimulating experience at all, with much of the content being non-news - like gossip, image, sensation and advertising. The other week I picked up a copy of the New Zealand Herald in the Dubai airport. I was shocked as I flicked through it, realising how spoilt I have become in India. This post started there.

But allow me to be a bit more specific...

Here is a page I go looking for every week. It helps me get inside and understand different perspectives on controversial issues. On this occasion, it raises the crisis developing on India's borders with the Rohingya people from Myanmar.


But look more closely. Let me enlarge the left hand side a bit. Can you see what I see?  In covering this crisis, they summon three experts, with each person writing a short article from the perspective of 'the left', 'the right' and 'the centre' - in political terms. It helps me think carefully and clearly and fully about the issue at hand.

How refreshing is this?!

Let your mind wander over to the media in the USA. One of the most disturbing features of the press over there is that they've given up trying to represent this pursuit of objectivity. One media outlet represents the left, another represents the right - and then they get on their soapboxes and shout at each other. It is appalling.

I am not sure I can find even one redeeming feature about Trump and I find the approach of Fox News (as I blogged about here) to be abhorrent, but there can still be a hint of empathy for Trump as I watch CNN carelessly and clumsily preach its agenda from its soapbox, particularly through the bias in the way questions are framed...

Sure, there is a big difference between print media and television - and yes, there is a bias here in India. I can pick up the difference between these two newspapers, but it is nowhere near as pronounced and the effort is made to create a forum for this kind of even-handed debate.

Another thing I like is the way these newspapers avoid focusing on the personality, or even the manufactured celebrity, of the journalists themselves. An annoying thing about watching BBC and CNN is that in between news programmes, there is this incessant promotion of other news programmes on their channel - and the promotion revolves totally around the presenter of the show. What?! They are just a presenter! Then during their show, their questions become longer, the camera lingers more on them (from different angles) etc. It is bizarre. The media has a way of engineering celebrity status for their own (I've blogged on this issue as well!).

I could hardly name one print journalist in these Indian papers (although I do know the name of one woman who got murdered recently because of her commitment to her vocation). They use a lot of guest writers and include a lot of experts in their field, often writing with depth and insight - like the page to the right here. It is just so satisfying.

I miss this with the newspapers and the commentary back home. I look at the focus on some journalists with their regular columns and I ask, 'What have you done with your life that I should listen to you? Aren't you just a media construction of your employers?' New Zealand recently had a political election, featuring leaders' debates - and then afterwards these people are asked 'Who won the debate?' But I am left asking about who are these people being asked and why are they being given time and space to give their opinion in order to try and shape mine? Where is the expertise, the seasoned wisdom and depth of insight?

While I get lost a bit in the local Indian news, often because of their love for acronyms - the coverage of world news is of a high quality. I enjoy this weekly 'Despatches' page. Five columns on five stories from around the world - each written (usually) by an Indian correspondent for the newspaper. There is so little syndicated material that is utilised.

While I prefer The Hindu in terms of the quality of writing and the freedom of expression, The Times of India is remarkable with its graphics. I haven't seen another newspaper in the world that is so consistently excellent in this area.

Barby and I are often taking photos and sending them home to our children on WhatsApp...

Here is just one example.

Multiple times each week, there is a visual of this quality that appears. I am in awe of the hard work and diligent research that produces these graphics so regularly. Graphs. Tables. Images. Diagrams.

It is a school-teachers' dream! An incredible resource - and a great way to learn about what is happening in the world.

Even the fun pages are done with an accessible thoughtfulness. I enjoy this 'Easy like Sunday morning' quiz each week, as a 'back page' feature. It is very clever.


Not every feature is great. One area that needs improvement is the editorial, or political, cartoon. India does have a fine tradition in this area - but these two newspapers are poor with their cartoons. Maybe once every two months I see a cartoon that I'd want to retain.

People from outside India will be intrigued by the pages given to marriage proposals each week, as the families of brides-to-be and grooms-to-be search all avenues to find the right match.

One of the sadnesses I find is the way local tragedies seem to be raised more lightly and lingered with more briefly in the media. It is almost as if the greater acquaintance with grief and the deeper familiarity with suffering means that people move on more readily. Yikes. It is heart-breaking. The stampede at the Mumbai train station killed 22 people and it was off the front page in a day or two. [NB: Sorry to keep referencing other posts - but on this one, see here].

One of the other motivations for spending so much time in the newspapers is another sadness. As I listen to preachers in the churches of India, it is disappointing to hear the way they are so dependent on material, particularly illustrative material, from overseas. And so in my consultancy role I devise assignments that require students to engage with the big issues of their own context and their own time. I am in the middle of this mess right now, as I search these same newspapers for good fodder for these assignments...


nice chatting

Paul

Comments

Wow! I almost want to subscribe to one of these papers! I am so tired NZ "news" in whatever form it is printed or broadcast :-(
Thanks Paul.
I agree. I really enjoy reading the Hindu when visiting India.
I prefer it to the Times.
http://revelation4-11.blogspot.com/2014/11/comparing-leading-newspapers-in-india.html

Your observations about NZ also apply to Australia.

I would want to defend the New York Times. There are biases.
But, there is also some great in-depth articles.

I also think that your newspaper reading, greatly enhances your preaching.
Here you are following in Barth's tradition.
See the second question here
http://barth.ptsem.edu/about-cbs/faq
Paul Windsor said…
Ahh, Sheila - unfortunately, I don't think the online options are nearly as satisfying as the print versions - and they may die of shock if a subscription request comes from NZ! Good to hear from you. Paul
Paul Windsor said…
Yes, Ross - the International Edition of the NY Times is probably my pick of them all. I try to ensure that I have a copy as I board a plane for a flight (which I do every now and then). I like Barth re-imagined for the 21st century - as someone put it, 'Logos (Bible Software) in one hand and Google in the other'! Blessings, Paul.

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