On 28 July, 2012, Firstpost wrote in ‘Mumbai Mirror calls Olympics opening ceremony tepid’ how journalists relied on news wire and agency reports and on their imaginations to write a piece which had very little to do with reality. This morning, Mumbai Mirror’s fine tradition continues.
India’s Shiva Thapa lost to Mexico’s Oscar Valdez Fierro. That’s a fact. But how newspapers interpreted the loss boggles the mind.
Hindustan Times wrote on the front page how Shiva Thapa made an early exit in the 56 Kg category after been given a “severe beating”. Mid-Day headlines the event as "Teen Thapa Thumped". Lovely alliteration, that, but far from describing the bout as it happened. Asian Age says ‘Thapa could not live up to the pre-Games hype and got pounded’. Indian Express says, simply, that Thapa ‘lost’.
Times of India’s Alok Sinha, is perhaps, the only writer from these papers who actually witnessed the bout. “Shiva shows he has heart in the nine minutes he is in the ring but his lack of experience is for all to see as one of India’s medal contender (sic) goes down 14-9… it was a fight that was in the balance for two rounds but after that, a flurry of punches – a combination of four left and right by Shiva’s Mexican opponent – finished the contest,” he writes.
If the persons who wrote the insightful and imaginative headlines and columns in Hindustan Times, Mid-day and Asian Age had bothered to see the match, they would have seen a young boxer showing tremendous guts and ferocity against a vastly experienced opponent. He started unsurely and ended the first round down 2-4. He came back in the second and out-boxed his opponent 4-3, going into the third round only a point behind. He ran out of steam in the middle of the third and the experienced Mexican hit him with a flurry of 10-odd combination shots which won the match. The final tally: 14-9. No one gave the brave 18 year old a “severe beating”.
Is it possible that, for the rest of the games, the news media makes a small rule: see an event in its entirety if you are going to provide an opinion. And if you can’t (one understands that molestation makes better headlines than archery) just report the facts. Thank you very much.
(In an earlier version, the headline had an erroneous spelling for Thapa.)