The Media and Kargil Indian Institute of Mass Communications, 1999

IN Books | 08/09/2002
The Media and Kargil Indian Institute of Mass Communications, 1999

The Media and Kargil Indian Institute of Mass Communications, 1999

Information War Media A Victim Or A Tool?

It is generally believed that truth is the first casualty of war. War exposes most starkly the gap between the rhetoric and reality that exists at the heart of the profession of journalism. In wartime a journalist is often faced with a number of ethical problems. Should graphic pictures of the dead be shown? Should the grief of the families who have lost their dear ones be intruded upon? Should the correspondent report on the enemy side? Should the reporters accede to the restrictions placed by the armed forces on their movement in the war zone? These are all-important ethical considerations in the reporting of war. However, the basic ethical dilemma remains, how a war reporter should resolve the competing claims made by their work and their country. And how the media can safeguard itself from being manipulated in believing what may be only the ¿truth of imagination¿.

India was faced with a war-like situation in May-July 99 after almost 28 years of the Bangladesh Liberation. The media scene in the meantime has taken a 180-degree turn. Besides a very vibrant print medium, there are over 50 satellite channels with round the clock program. The media with its extensive coverage kept the nation hooked on to their television sets and newspapers during the Kargil War. In order to know what the media especially the print was covering and how much they were covering, the IIMC undertook an exploratory study of a cross section of mainstream newspapers.

Do media have an agenda to pursue? Or should they have one? Are media objective, especially in critical times. Are media independent of the system? Are they vulnerable to manipulation by cunning system or subversive? Questions such as these have bothered the academia, social scientists and the public at large.

Research conducted over a span of a century does suggest that media can be manipulated and have indeed been at various points of times. Adolph Hitler was quick to realize the potential of propaganda especially through the mass media like the radio and the press, which he made use of to the hilt. So did Winston Churchill during the War when the BBC broadcast all that Churchill¿s government wanted it to. The fate of a controlled media in the former USSR is too vivid to be forgotten. These are just a few cases in point.

An exploratory study of Indian, Paksitani, British and US print media was conducted with the following objectives:

  • How the print medium covered the crisis in the two countries embroiled in Kargil.
  • How cross-sections of the foreign print media especially the US and the British have been reporting the crisis.


  1. Journalism tends to become an extension of nationalism in times of war.
  2. Truth becomes an easy casualty;


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