Aakar Patel has a nice piece in Mint: Why our media can’t explain India.

This paragraph resonates well:

The same stories from 30, 50, 100 or 500 years ago keep repeating here, and the peasant will still murder his daughter for falling in love. The happenings in the city are also difficult to understand. The news from May was that Delhi University sold radioactive Cobalt-60 as scrap. This killed the merchant who bought it and crippled another. The university, which is supposed to be a research body, had unthinkingly buried some of the other Cobalt-60 earlier and this will poison the ground. Why are we so casual? Nobody can say, and there will be an explanation along the lines that it was an accident. But this will happen again, of course. Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal was owned by Americans. But it was managed, staffed and run by Indians. Its foreman was Indian and its workers were Indian. Why were they so casual about their own safety? The media doesn’t know, but it is convinced the solution lies with getting Warren Anderson.

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I subscribe to many news feeds, and I tend to skim through articles. But I observed that I had developed a tendency to look past stories of suicides, daughters-in-law burnt and crimes against Dalits. Likewise, a couple of years ago, every day’s newspaper carried a story of farmer suicides. Some months later, I found myself ignoring those. I don’t think it was because I wanted to insulate myself from those stories — it was because it wasn’t ‘new’. It took effort to get past this behavioral pattern.

In a sense, this was a failure of news organizations. Unless every story is treated with respect by the story-teller, no one will listen. However, there must be an incentive for them to be good at what they do: either they must have a tangible incentive (a free-market solution), or they must see themselves as important entities of a society.

Right now, neither is happening.

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