I lived in America from November 1988 to 2002, but did not stop visiting the United States even when we left America, and because of professional considerations transferred to Thailand, via a stay in Nepal. I know America gave me the break that I could never have had in India in 1988 and I also know that the media when I went to the United States was largely, as far as I know, Goals.
I entered the documentary and media world quite by accident when Pranay Gupte, who had worked for the New York Times, created International Commentary Services (ICS) – a nonprofit organization – which was supposed to make documentaries in developing countries for PBS and Discovery. Pranay Gupte is a renowned journalist who gave me a chance and I would say he challenged me by literally throwing me into the ocean and saying – If you can swim you will survive. It made me want to swim.
This is perhaps the best compliment I can give him today.
The documentaries, for which I have traveled to several countries, were aimed at letting Americans know that everything in developing countries is not about famines and wars, but about ordinary people and leaders making positive change. It was long before the 24/7 news; it was then that the stories of human impact that gave voice to millions of people in a wide variety of countries were never heard; their efforts on what they were doing for their countries was never said. ICS, with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation and many others who have helped us, presented these stories to American audiences in documentaries.
Then the Earth Times started, way before its time, but through this medium I learned to write factually about what was happening in the world, from UN summits to NGOs on the ground. My gurus were great journalists like Richard Shepard, Gerald Fraser, Pranay Gupte, Abe Rosenthal, whom I only met once, but who had read so much about India that I would say he was the best. I would consider Gerald Fraser the one who taught me the most to write an objective story. He was an African American, very kind and very patient, with a neophyte like me. We have gelled. I can never forget it.
Then CNN came along and through my work I met Ted Turner and Jane Fonda at the UN and UN summits. I remember asking him about his reviews on a 24/7 network from Atlanta, when no one said it could work. He told me that CNN was something he dreams of and that although it used to make no money, the first Gulf War changed everything. He had people in places that no other channel had. The first time I met him personally was in Brazil at Earth Summit when he saw that I was wearing a sari and stumbled upon him, crossed his hands and said Namaste. I replied to Namaste and said do you know the greeting in 155 different languages ââas that was the number of countries that CNN was forwarded to, at least that’s what I had heard . He smiled and said alright a number of them.
I realized again that I had met someone special, way ahead of his time. He was the very first billionaire to give a billion dollars to the United Nations Foundation in 1997 and I remember asking him shortly after that it was a lot of money. I will never forget what he said to me: âIf you have two-three billion, giving a billion is nothing, you always have more than you need. I would consider him to be one of the most low-key, grounded, and unpretentious people I have ever met. Easy to talk and ready to listen.
Now I’m back in India, but my love for reporting can never leave me. I am saddened today because when I see CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC, as well as the New York Times and so many other print media, I wonder what happened to giving both views?
Not that I’m on a political camp or right or left, but when did the US media suddenly say we would only report one point of view?
In the past, Donald Trump was celebrated by all American channels. From Larry King to Oprah Winfrey, all the mainstream media have asked him the only question: why don’t you run for President of the United States. He did and won and it seems almost overnight that every print outlet and every media channel has opposed him.
I still can’t figure out why? I’m sure Biden will do well for America, but what I can’t fathom is why the good things Trump did in the four years he was there couldn’t be honestly reported. He did what he promised in every debate, whether it was with his own Republican contenders or Hilary Clinton.
Trump said he will be tough on China because they don’t play trade fairly, the whole world now knows. He also said he would bring manufacturing jobs back to America, which he did. He said he was for free trade, but on an equal footing he stuck to it. He said legal migrants are welcome, but America will build a wall so drugs and illegal migrants cannot easily enter the country. He did that too.
I don’t know Donald Trump or Joe Biden. I am just an Indian in India who spent an exciting 14 years in the United States as a journalist and am back in my country of birth after living and traveling in several countries.
I just want to know why the media I knew so well in America; the country where you could say anything; the country that taught me a career that I love with the most exciting media opportunities has suddenly become somewhat predisposed to one point of view. It doesn’t just have to do with a political person in the United States, but it seems generalized whether they write about PM Modi or Macron or about India, China, or the economy or even the virus. Chinese.
It is even reported that some American print media have been paid millions by Chinese media for Chinese propaganda? I just hope it’s not true. But that drives readers away from mainstream news to social media networks.
I just can’t understand what happened to objectivity or at least two different opinions in the American mainstream media?
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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