Woman on Mars and the French President*
and officials often accuse journalists of fabricating news. However,
such accusations are by and large the creation of those who have been
put in a tight spot by honest reporting.
However, two recent news reports stood out because they were just the
creation of the journalists who wanted to generate reader interest. One
was the report about the figure of a woman on Mars and the other was
speculation over visit of French President’s girl friend Carla Bruni to
Taj Mahal (Agra, India).
Mainstream newspapers picked up the speculation about
life on mars (based on an imagery from NASA’s Mars explorer Spirit)
from weblogs and gave them currency by reporting about the photograph
in detail. None cared to consult NASA before giving currency to the
story. Moreover, it was clear to any person with average intelligence
that the figure on the surface of Mars was a rock or something like
that. (NASA subsequently confirmed that.) Yet, newspapers across the
world carried the story, even describing the woman as ‘walking down the
hill naked’. News editors definitely knew that there was no substance
in the story. Yet the probability of life on Mars was projected simply
because that would attract readers.
Days before the French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Taj Mahal, his
girl friend had categorically stated in France that she would not be
going to Agra. Yet, the newspapers were not willing to drop speculation
and gossip on the chances of her turning up at the last minute. Those
who were spinning the story knew sex as a news element that would
capture reader attention. Public Relations managers definitely knew
that the French President would be getting more attention than normal
in the media if the girl friend keeps on propping up in news reports.
So, they probably turned a blind eye and did not bother to refute the
But soon, readers would see through such tricks to the detriment of the media. (*The
headline of this article is an example of how reader interest could be
generated by twisting things a bit. The title largely takes away the
distortion by adding the words 'in the media'. Well, you knew that this
is site dealing with journalism ethics. So, hope you were not misled!)
Tailpiece: Many readers think of editorials as serious
pieces of writing. However, ediitorials can be on any subject and can
be humorous. Here is an example: Maid rocks in Mars: Alien theory captures the imagination.