The August 14 expose in The Wall Street Journal of Facebook’s schmoozing with the BJP-led NDA government, by promoting hate speech for “business prospects”, has deep implications for Indian society, polity and democracy.
Three days on, after the Independence Day holiday for some, the coverage of the issue in Indian newspapers is illustrative of their priorities, their editorial expertise, and indeed their business partnerships with the social media giant.
Only one English newspaper (The Telegraph, Calcutta), and only one language newspaper (Loksatta, Marathi) has it as the lead story. Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad, and The Indian Express, Delhi, have it above the fold on page one.
And only one newspaper (Dainik Jagran) has an editorial (below) even if it is a wishy-washy attempt by the mouthpiece of the sangh parivar to brush away the charges levelled by WSJ as “agenda-driven“.
As has become the norm in recent months, The Indian Express duly “balances” its front-page coverage with an op-ed anchor by former I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.
For most of the rest, it is vivaad as usual—just another tu-tu-main-main between the Congress and BJP, after Rahul Gandhi‘s below-par tweet and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad‘s undignified response to it.
# Not one newspaper has the resources or the cojones to investigate the WSJ story further.
# Not one newspaper tries to put the WSJ expose in context: that what the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper has revealed has opposite meanings in the US and India.
# Not one newspaper even has the imgination to investigate claims on social media, which show how poorly equipped reporters and editors are to deal with a story like this.
Indeed, barring The Telegraph and to an extent The Indian Express, no newspaper even tries to bring the various shades of the controversy as it played out, with various Congress worthies revealing their attempts to flag FB’s complicity in India.
The Times of India
The Economic Times
In the language newspapers, the Facebook story is as routine as it comes, although it is hate speech in the languages, that has the biggest impact.