The Times of India - Absolutely No Vetting

photo.cms.jpg

The Times of India (TOI) was once considered a veritable national institution in India, but it seems recently they cannot even tie their shoe laces. The list goes on......... lack of common sense during Mumbai Floods coverage(originally written by Uma), Aishwarya Rai and Jerry Springer from The Spoof, and others, and others.

Now, if they want to be a tabloid like "New York Post" for business reasons, that is perfectly OK. But at least get the basics right. Every publication makes honest mistakes but not so often and then not promptly correct it. How can you trust their reporting anymore?  You can surely ask me why was I reading The Times of India. I must be bored. I feel really sorry and sad because I grew up as a child with this newspaper, reading serious editorials about India, and rest of the world, and R K Laxman's  common man in "You Said it". During the pre-MOSAIC days, in graduate school, I would go to Cornell and LSU library during the weekends to read TOI. Back home, my parents still subscribe to TOI's paper copy. I still visit TOI's online site every day, even for few minutes. Whenever, I am in India, I read a news or two from TOI's paper copy. How did they get so sloppy? Here is their latest faux pas:When did Seinfeld's Jason Alexander marry Britney Spears? Apparently, he was Britney's first husband according to TOI

From Times of India, Thursday, August 18, 2005.

Britney's ex hubby speaks out

Britney Spears' first husband Jason Alexander, has confessed that "being married to her was shit". The latter claims his shock Las Vegas wedding to the pop princess, which lasted just 55 hours, has ruined his life. He insists he was serious about marrying the sexy singer, and says he didn't receive any money from her, but everyone slates him for cashing in on the marriage, reports an American magazine. He said, "I never thought the wedding was a joke. I was serious about everything I said. But being married to Britney Spears was shit." [Directly from The Times of India article along with the photo]

Note: I noticed the mistake more than a day after the publication. How simple can we get? I think they need a Public Editor like The New York Times. Or, just use Wikipedia often. It is not the mistakes that bother me more, it is the lack of checks and balances mechanism shown consistently in TOI, contrary to what is expected from a massive, national level newspaper.  New York Times in past have published erroneous obituaries too. Any high volume, time constrained, 24/7 publishing business is quite vulnerable to slip-ups.

Such an obvious, silly, mega-pop culture blunder illustrates that there is no vigilant process for constant check, reporting errors, and publishing quick addendum, errata in place and that is really serious and telling. This is definitely no Jayson Blair fiasco but does display being clueless as a whole. You just cannot pass the blame only to a cub reporter, provide no mentorship, punish him or her, and walk away. This is absolutely the last thing I want my post to cause.  Maybe, this careless reporting culture holds true for some other Indian newspapers too - that I do not know at all that much. I would definitely not put India Todayin that category. India Today is a world class publication.

There is always a room for improvement where national newspapers of any country develops a robust means to detect errors through their own staff and from outside (readers and bloggers), and take corrective measures instantly. Maybe all it takes is an online, easily visible email address that gives everyone access to tip the newspaper researchers. I think a policy of corrections added on a regular basis will just do perfectly.

Update

on 2005-11-16 07:54 by Kush Tandon

Sepia Mutiny's take.

What would have happened if Britney Spears was really married to John "George Costanza" Alexander?  Read Predominantly Prosaic Prose.