“Allegedly” escaping accountability
Man has been known to invest a lot of intellectual capital to frame laws and rules for better organized living. Men have been known to always find ways to hoodwink, circumvent, nullify those rules for easy rewards.
Invariably in nations run by the rule of law, anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until the accusations are proved by the accuser. An accusation that does not hold invites liabilities. How do you then accuse without the associated liability? Some wily gossip doctor discovered the simple power of the word allegedly and it singularly revolutionized the media business! The media could now accuse without being an accuser. The line between factual reporting and gossip evaporated with the awesome dark powers of the word allegedly as law watched stupefied!Media, as we know it now, wants to do the smart business, economizing on quality, efforts, time and analyses. Obviating the need for due diligence and facts, allegedly empowers the media to say “Mr XYZ is a criminal, corrupt and a scoundrel of epic proportions… as alleged! We didn’t say it, but someone did.”
Just as the use of tools led to us humans having less powerful muscles vis-a-vis our ancestors, the great apes, the discovery of tools like allegedly that help escape accountability, have also caused degeneration in the quality of journalism. Journalism now does not require a distinction between facts and opinions, nor does it require analysis. The only processing that is apparently done to news is the addition of allegedly into every claim. It is astounding though, that even this simple job of inserting a word is a riddle to our journalists. The odds of them finding the right slot to insert the word are only a little better than that of a monkey on a piano playing Mozart!
For instance, we have quite often seen headlines like “Man allegedly stabbed by the worker of a party X”. The man has a hole in his body for Gods sake! It is cut, hes bleeding, a case for attempt to murder with the FIR specifying stabbing has been registered, but our media is still not sure if he was stabbed! If only they had shifted their allegedly a little to the right saying, “Man stabbed allegedly by the worker of a party X”, they wouldn’t seem so insensitive but the convenience of their tools seems to have made them too lazy to give it a thought.
Here are some such outrageous ham-ups:
There’s a dead body with deep cuts speaking for itself but Outlook doesn’t seem sure if he is hacked to death or the body developed cracks by itself.
Delhi: Transgenders caught on camera allegedly trying to kidnap a childhttps://t.co/HdMvf5vLOz
— Times of India (@timesofindia) May 21, 2016
– Transgender can be seen kidnapping the kid, but TOI doesn’t seem to agree that the kid is kidnapped enough!
— The Quint (@TheQuint) May 20, 2016
-Again a person dead with stab wounds, the body is proof of both stabbing and death but The Quint thinks its just people alleging he is stabbed!
The vicious potency of this word should not be underestimated with these examples of seemingly innocent misplacement though. Media is evidently a business of selling perceptions under the veneer of information. In media craft, allegedly may be used to absolve the suspect and hold the complainant guilty. For example:
In the headline above, CPM is absolved of wrongdoing and BJP is held guilty of alleging! If you read the article here, TOI itself gives you every reason to suspect a political attack, though it diligently avoids mentioning something as basic as victim testimony, allegedly does the rest- makes CPM the victim of BJPs allegation!
Allegedly is just as conspicuous in absentia as it is by its presence and heres where its use as a weapon of perception comes to light.
This is not alleged! HT is has pronounced verdict that the BJP leader has broken the horses leg even though there’s video evidence that the horse broke its leg in an unfortunate accident. More here:
Allegedly is a scheme in itself, it is a convenient tool which can be misused for reversing perception. Like a burqa hiding a terrorist, allegedly can be used to build an air of innocence against a possible perpetrator and inflict liabilities on those who speak against a crime.
Informed readers should discourage News agencies from the use of such tools that media employs to escape accountability. It is only by seeing through such potentially misleading tricks and challenging them, that we can push our media outlets to stick to reporting facts and not coloring them with their own biases.