I’m a staunch supporter of the India US Nuclear Deal and have defended it in the past. (If you’re new to my blog, do read my response to the Forbes article that was disparaging and caustic about India’s intentions because of the protests against the USS Nimitz docking in Chennai).
Well, after two long years since announcing the strategic partnership agreement over nuclear cooperation, the United States and India have managed to work out the minutiae of the 123 implementation agreement. This is a landmark moment in the history of India. I know its not done yet, and that we’ve a long way to go, but I think the major hurdles have been crossed, and I’m optimistic that it’s now just a matter of time.
I was following this story on a minute-by-minute basis on the Internet, observing the tone and expression of the varied news stories being published online. What I would like to point out here is how divergent the stories, and especially the headlines, were, among the different web sites.
The Indian news sites – NDTV, Indian Express, The Hindu, etc., broke the positive news first. When I started monitoring, neither the Washington Post, nor the New York Times had any update. Then Washington Post broke the positive news first.
Since the last few days when the talks were extended beyond schedule, a number of varied interpretations were made regarding the possible outcome. Mostly, the international as well as domestic Indian and US media covered the story with headlines like “struggling”, “talks extended”, and so on, but there are very notable exceptions. Note that even if the content of the news article was the same, the headlines were different. And headlines are where I think the editorial emphasis makes the whole difference. Even as I write:
The Gulf Times headline says: “Officials break logjam in N-talks, pact elusive”. Excuse me?
The Indian Muslims web site says: “U.S., India remain divided on controversial nuclear deal”.
The People’s Daily Online from China says: “US expects no breakthrough from nuclear talks with India”.
And the Associated Press of Pakistan goes one step further: “US – India talks on nuclear deal fail – WSJ”. As if not to be blamed for attributing reporting of the failure to itself, it includes the Wall Street Journal in the headline, where the WSJ actually said no such thing.
Muslim and Chinese – these were the only web sites I found that had negative headlines while the talks were still in progress. Why is this the case? I wish it were not so. Why weren’t there any negative news headlines from the mainstream US or Indian news sites? But sadly, that’s the case. And do we need any more proof of how editors manipulate headlines to attract maximum readership?
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