The Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones reported from India for last night’s show and found that despite a thriving and open newspaper culture, journalistic ethics look entirely different in the world’s largest democracy.
“I can just go out and buy a story written about myself?” Jones asked Indian journalist Puja Gupta, around the 3:30 mark. “Yeah,” she replied.
In India, newspapers take the concept of “sponsored content” to the extreme: For a price, anyone can run a fake article or entirely manufactured opinion poll in one of the country’s 93,000 registered newspapers—without any indication that the content was purchased, Jones reported. So that’s what he did.
For $2,500, Jones bought a spot on page two of the Indian newspaper Millennium Post that carried the headline, “Poll Shows US Number A-1 Star Jason Jones Does Best Indian Election Coverage.” It is accompanied by two clearly Photoshopped photos—one with Jones’s head pasted onto a glistening, shirtless, muscled body. The very-real article ran in the print edition, and it can be seen on the Millennium Post’s website. Anyone who hasn’t seen the Daily Show segment would have no indication that it isn’t a factual article.
The article itself is an exercise in pure absurdity:
New most scientific poll displays that 97% of Indian voters trust award wanting fake journalist Jason Jones to deliver best Lok Sabha coverage in 2014. Known as the Bronto-from-toronto, a six-time Mr. Canada entrant, Jones hopes India will help ‘exercise my mind as well as my temple of a body’.
Asked what his hopes are for his first trip to the sub-continent, Jones replied ‘Having stayed at the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino at Atlantic City New Jersey I think I have a pretty good understanding of India, but I can only hope that the nation will live up to expectations set when I ate lunch at the Indian Pavillion at Disney’s EPCOT center while waiting fot the 1: 15 showing of Captian EO to begin. The flatbread I had was so good I missed the showing, but it was Ok because I caught the 1: 45’.