The other side of the storyFor all that journalists somewhat convincingly claim to represent the fair and objective view, it takes only a news aggregator to understand the stark truth. I started reading Google News when it first debuted quite a long time ago, and I've been a fan of it ever since. What Google News proves time and again, is that journalistic bias does exist and it reflects in each and every word that is written or uttered. There is nothing like a dis-interested view to cut through commercial or governmental propaganda.
So, I started reading the newspapers almost religiously. For online editions of the newspaper, since the news remains much the same and is often stale, I read the editorials, op-ed, opinion, letters to editor sections, because that is where the meat is, so to speak. My news appetite hasn't waned - just consider the following list:
a) Rediff - for grabbing the headlines
b) Indianexpress - For frequently exposing the other side of the story. The editorials and columns are phenomenal
c) Washington Post - For an American perspective
d) Times Online - For a British perspective
e) Dawn - For a Pakistani perspective
f) Outlook magazine - For an in-depth insight into the burning issue of the day - with a perspective you didn't even know that it existed. Awesome.
g) Haaretz - For an Israeli perspective
h) New York Times - Another American perspective
g) Slashdot - Its motto is "News for nerds, stuff that matters" - says everything. Top-site for technology news.
h) Google News - for everything else. Sometimes, I visit news.google.com instead of news.google.co.in, just to check whether Google is hiding something, just because it thinks I like the Indian news.
I do sometimes visit other competing online news editions, but I do get a bit pissed off usually:
a) The Hindu - Crappy site interface, fantastic analysis of news, but biased towards left/communists.
b) Indiatimes/Times of India - Crappy site. Tabloid. Annoying flash ads. Enuff said
c) Digg - supposedly competitor of Slashdot. First page takes a long time to load. Low signal to noise ratio - lots of stories, most are trivial. But sometimes you get a few gems. Frustrating.
A few general observations:
a) There is a definite journalistic bias - Indian Express is more progressive than the reactionary Hindu, but both take a stand. Times of India sits on the fence, has no opinions on anything other than the personal life of Bollywood stars.
b) In Pakistan, Dawn is more progressive that Daily Times.
c) In general, Israel is obsessed with the Palestine issue. Almost every article is regarding the IDF or the PLA mess or the incompetence of Israeli leadership. It is as though they are in a siege. I don't know who is suffering more - Israelis or Palestinians. I really feel sorry for them - this is no way for a society to exist.
d) In general, Pakistan is obsessed with India (and nowadays more with Afghanistan). I enjoy a small game - as soon as I load their editorial or opinion page, I search for the word - "india", and in nine times out of ten, it will be there - either as a criticism, or seen as a model for economic progress. And frighteningly, even letters of readers reflect this - we Indians are regarded as war-mongers, untrustworthy people, losers, cowards (esp. if a military person or a former foreign secretary is posting). It is so childish.
Left to myself, I think it is time Pakistan grows this insecurity and India-centric view, and gets a little more self-confidence and maturity.
e) Free registrations to the website are useless and often suck. New York Times is the biggest culprit - Bug Me Not is my friend while visiting such brain-damaged sites. I've heard there is a Firefox extension for directly getting the login from Bug Me Not, I'm yet to check it out.
f) I don't know who in their right mind can use the e-paper facility that the online news editions so sickeningly promote. It really sucks.
Labels: bugmenot, Digg, e-paper, editorial, free registration, Google News, Haaretz, india, Indian Express, Israel, New York Times, online news, op-ed, Outlook, Pakistan, Rediff, Slashdot, Washington Post