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Updated: October 30, 2010 01:11 IST

Indian media restricted, narrow, says Chomsky

Special Correspondent
Comment (10)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Noam Chomsky. File Photo
The Hindu
Noam Chomsky. File Photo

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.”

Internet sway

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.

Democratic culture

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.”

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I have been reading hindu from the age of 12 now 24 and i love the level headedness and wisdom of the editorials especially Siddharth Varadarajan, Hhasan Suroor,etc. However not to rest on laurels, i would also like Hindu to be as penetrative as the New York Times(pentagon papers,etc). i would also like to see more commentary. (can somebody comment on the coverage of media on Obama's visit. There is so much coverage that it makes me wonder about our level of self respect)

from:  sri
Posted on: Nov 3, 2010 at 20:33 IST

I do agree with him. The media should not be biased. It should provide the correct facts about any event or incident and let the people think about what's right or wrong. In most of the Indian newspaper except The Hindu, take a stand about any news and thus they fail to give the correct picture to the people.

from:  Rohan Sinha
Posted on: Oct 31, 2010 at 12:58 IST

Noam Chomsky has just averred to what he has been saying all his life. He has been exposing, with the conviction of a truth-seeking monk, the way the American establishment and corporate houses have been 'shaping' public opinion by manipulating the media.. all to serve their vested business interests.
What is happening in India now is no different...The popular media has been forcing a majoritarian view on an increasingly intolerant public, stifling any kind of sensible discourse and pandering to the blinkered views of a right-leaning elite.
It behoves on 'The Hindu' to continue the good work it has been doing..The Hindu's views may never be acceptable to bigots that we have aplenty in this country, but it needs to continue this for the sake of truth alone, if not anything else.

from:  Murali Vaikuntapathy
Posted on: Oct 31, 2010 at 02:12 IST

I've been reading The Hindu for over forty years. When I went abroad in the eighties, as I couldn't be without my favorite newspaper, I subscribed to its weekly International Edition. Now, still being overseas, I access The Hindu on line several times a day to be abreast of latest happenings in my home state and India. This newspaper is a class of its own undoubtedly.

from:  D. Chandramouli
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 19:31 IST

I have been an avid reader of The Hindu and I completely agree with Mr. Chomsky that this newspaper is doing a great job, it is giving us the real news and thoughtful and impartial editorials.

from:  Faraze Ahmad
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 07:20 IST

The opinions expressed by Mr.Noam Chomsky are true. Excepting in a few newspapers, the message provided are biased and inducing. Little said the better about the visual media; publicity, sensation, business are the motive behind them. Further it is not concluded with a logical objects.

from:  V.Subbarao
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 06:14 IST

Indian newspapers are the best in the world.This is evident from the general knowledge of an average newspaper-reading Indian.Next door to where I lived in Cannanore was a beedimaking factory. The workers contributed money and hired a full time person to just read the many newspapers aloud from front to back.While their hands were busy making beedis they had discussions,debates and interpretations. I have been in the US since 1982.During that age before internet when calls to India were over a dollar a minute one felt completely isolated from the rest of the world. The newspapers may devote half the space to football,basketball and baseball and most of the remainder for ads.Even visits by leaders like Indira Gandhi and others got scant coverage. Instead of publishing only negative news or think tank analysis I wish the newspapers gave the people some idea of the day to day life around the world.Please give half a column to The Delhi Commonwealth Games.

from:  Vinod Kongot Nair
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 03:15 IST

Compared to what? The Western media, which lost all its backbone to criticize the American government when it waged a sinister war on Iraq? When 80% of the American public is for the war the mass media didn't have the guts to question the war. Only when 80% of the public turned against the war, it also turned against the war. Or even now when it blindly supports Israel almost 99% of the time and follows the government line all the time! Compare that with Indian media which asked the boldest questions when India was ready to wage war with Pakistan few years ago even though 90% of the Indian public has supported the war.

from:  C. G. Pillai
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 02:25 IST

To develop a more functional democracy, corruption in the government needs to be stopped. Only wide-spread investigative reports by media are essential for functional democracy. At present, the corruption is growing in India faster than their GDP. This is due to narrow reporting.

from:  KVR
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 01:52 IST

I read the Hindu at least twice a day for two reasons - (a)I get to hear about things happening in India other than Bollywood, Cricket and the Sensex and (b) P Sainath. Keep up the good work guys. India needs good newspapers like yours.

from:  Genevieve Castelino
Posted on: Oct 30, 2010 at 01:34 IST
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