Thursday, December 06, 2007

The power of headline and the morons behind it.

This is the headline of a news story I found in my feeds -

Man proves himself right, shows he didn't take dowry


Reading that headline, I thought this was a case where a woman has been proved in court to have made false claims on dowry harassment. But I wanted to know the details and I read the story. To my surprise, there is nothing in the story that indicates any such thing. If I interpret it correctly, the man filed an RTI application demanding the income tax returns of his ex-wife and the court has ordered the IT dept to disclose the returns in two weeks. In short, nothing has been proved! The man has not yet shown that he has not taken dowry. In fact, I wonder whether analysing the IT returns of his ex-wife would prove anything. But I am not a legal expert.

Whatever be the outcome of the case, what bugs me is the way the development was reported by the media. This is not a case where a big corporate is paying the media to spin the story in its favour and I doubt if the person who wrote that headline was related to the person concerned but a clear case where the biases of the individual seeped into his work. The headline for the story has changed. It is not as misleading as it was but it is still is pretty bad ("Man scores against ex-wife in dowry harassment case"). Isn't the media supposed to be unbiased?

The report itself focuses on the reaction of the man to the development. The ex-wife or her representative have been effectively silenced because there is no word from them and from the looks of it, no effort seems to have been made to contact them. If there was, wouldn't the reporter have put in "the lawyer for the ex-wife declined to make any comments". I really think that this is a biased report giving its readers just one version of the story.

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