Woman on Mars and the French President*

The form of woman on Mars Politicians and officials often accuse journalists of fabricating news. However, such accusations are by and large the creation of those who have been put in a tight spot by honest reporting.

However, two recent news reports stood out because they were just the creation of the journalists who wanted to generate reader interest. One was the report about the figure of a woman on Mars and the other was speculation over visit of French President’s girl friend Carla Bruni to Taj Mahal (Agra, India).
Mainstream newspapers picked up the speculation about life on mars (based on an imagery from NASA’s Mars explorer Spirit) from weblogs and gave them currency by reporting about the photograph in detail. None cared to consult NASA before giving currency to the story. Moreover, it was clear to any person with average intelligence that the figure on the surface of Mars was a rock or something like that. (NASA subsequently confirmed that.) Yet, newspapers across the world carried the story, even describing the woman as ‘walking down the hill naked’. News editors definitely knew that there was no substance in the story. Yet the probability of life on Mars was projected simply because that would attract readers.

Days before the French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Taj Mahal, his girl friend had categorically stated in France that she would not be going to Agra. Yet, the newspapers were not willing to drop speculation and gossip on the chances of her turning up at the last minute. Those who were spinning the story knew sex as a news element that would capture reader attention. Public Relations managers definitely knew that the French President would be getting more attention than normal in the media if the girl friend keeps on propping up in news reports. So, they probably turned a blind eye and did not bother to refute the reports.

But soon, readers would see through such tricks to the detriment of the media. (*The headline of this article is an example of how reader interest could be generated by twisting things a bit. The title largely takes away the distortion by adding the words 'in the media'. Well, you knew that this is site dealing with journalism ethics. So, hope you were not misled!)

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