Adolf Hitler in his book, Mein Kampf, has written:
“Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (…) all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must, of course, be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”
Among the Nazi Propaganda was the endorsement of the famous book called, The Protocols of the elders of Zions, an anti-Semitic text which purported to be a description of Jewish Plan to control the world. It was first published in Russia in the year 1903 without the name of authors, date of publication. Henry Ford, even funded for the printing of 500,000 copies of its English Translation. The book was actively used in Europe and elsewhere in the first and second World War as a propaganda against Jews. Although it was exposed as a fraudulent text by The Times of London in 1921, it was taken around the world as genuine. Hitler claimed it was authentic because it was moaned as a forgery by Frankfurter Zeitung – a newspaper which was treated with hostility by the nationalist circle and later, in Nazi Germany, was the only publication least affected by the Ministry of Propaganda.
Ironically, one of the things Nazis pointed as a key to “Jewish global dominance” as described in The Protocols was controlling the media and manipulating the information.
Years later, nazi leader Erich von dem Bach-Zelewsky admitted:
“..Contrary to the opinion of the National Socialists, that the Jews were a highly organized group, the appalling fact was that they had no organization whatsoever. The mass of the Jewish people were taken complete by surprise. They did not know at all what to do; they had no directives or slogans as to how they should act. This is the greatest lie of anti-Semitism because it gives the lie to that old slogan that the Jews are conspiring to dominate the world and that they are so highly organized. In reality, they had no organization of their own at all, not even an information service. If they had had some sort of organization, these people could have been saved by the millions, but instead, they were taken completely by surprise…”
Media in today’s India
Reporters Without Borders, ever year, publishes World Press Freedom Index. In the year 2017, India was ranked 136, a plummet of 3 points from the previous year. Taking reference from that, Cobrapost – a well-known news website for the investigative journalism –- conducted a sting named Operation 136. The Sting revealed that how big media houses were ready to foment the Hindutva agenda with varying sums of money. Not just the news media but also entertainment agencies like SABTV and Scoopwhoop were ready to serve the purpose.
In the past few years, most of the media houses in India have succumbed to the pressure by the government. Reporting on various episodes like JNU, Kairana and Kasganj among many others have revealed the extent to which media can go in spreading hatred. Like in case of Jews, narratives targeting Muslims, Dalits and other minorities, are being created and circulated with the help of media. Fatima Nafees, mother of a missing JNU scholar Najeeb Ahmad has recently filed a lawsuit in the Delhi high court against Times of India, Times Now, Dilli Aajtak and the reporters of the India Today group. She has sought damages worth Rs 2.2 crore and immediate retraction of all the articles which falsely linked Ahmad with ISIS.
Besides, false reporting we have also seen a culture of self-censorship. Fearing expensive lawsuits and bans, like in case of The Wire and NDTV, many media houses have been cautious about not putting articles and reports critical of the Government or what the people in position may not like. The Vice, which is known for its edgy reporting in the world, is soon going on air in India. It has reportedly been trying to play safe in India and unlike its branches in other countries has set up a ‘Political and Cultural Sensitivity’ committee which would approve or disapprove “sensitive” stories already cleared by the editorial team. Rishi Majumder, formerly a journalist with The Vice India, has recently resigned because his story on a “gay ABVP” member was killed by the committee.
Also, there has been an increase in the killing of journalists, of which Gauri Lankesh’s made quite uproar.
Media is popularly known as the fourth pillar of democracy. Freedom of press is not only essential for the survival of democracy but also for the betterment of the society. It has been seen that better the media performs in a nation, higher is the level of people’s political participation and lesser the corruption. The society is more civilized and common people’s interests are more adequately represented by the elected individuals in a place where media performs better. It is also in media’s collective interest to remain independent and honest with regards to the propagation of information. It is therefore imperative for the media to sustain the onslaught and not succumb to the pressures by the establishments.
Hanzala Aman is a columnist writing for HW News Network. The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of HW News Network or any employee thereof. HW News Network makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.