Noam Chomsky, veteran linguist and public intellectual, has said the media in India is free and the government does not have the power to control it. However, it is “pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial.”
The Indian media is also not informative and leaves out lots of things, Professor Chomsky said in an interview published by weekly magazine Outlook in its 15th anniversary special issue.
He said the situation did not surprise him as it was not very different from what it was in many other countries.
However, Professor Chomsky qualified his comment by saying that what he saw during his last trip to India was a small sample. “There are very good things in the Indian media, especially The Hindu and a couple of others,” he said.
On his views on the English press in Pakistan, Professor Chomsky said it covered a “tiny part” of the population. “Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don't interfere with it.”
Asked whether people in the West were giving up newspapers and turning to the Internet, he said that it was partly true in the United States, where a large majority of the population was disillusioned with everything.
However, he was sceptical of the argument that the media would not be able to survive in the era of the Internet. Referring to the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Professor Chomsky said it survived on readership support.
“It gets almost no commercial advertising because the government hates it, business hates it,” he said, describing La Jornada as a very high quality newspaper and the only independent paper.
Asked for a solution to the crisis faced by the media, Professor Chomsky said: “What has to be done is not really specific to the media. It is to develop a more functional democratic society, a more democratic culture.”