A group of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka led a crowd that demolished a Muslim shrine last week, the BBC has learned.
This article highlights the biased reporting by the so called news organizations in India. It exposes their criminality and collusion to misinform and misinterpret for personal gain. Numerous instances in the news and print media are given to show the extent of the rot in the system.
Many excerpts are drawn from the report on paidnews prepared by Independent journalist Mr Paranjoy Guha Thakurtha who was one of the first to expose the 2G scam. His interview may be seen here.
The entire report may be downloaded from here (Link to PCI report). Although this report can be found on-line, our news-anchors who claim to pull out 'exclusive' documents from government files, are silent about their own criminality.
The perversion of Journalism : The deception or fraud that such “paid news” entails takes place at three levels. The reader of the publication or the viewer of the television programme is deceived into believing that what is essentially an advertisement is in fact, independently produced news content.
How does the government wield such clout over the media organizations?
a) Since most media organizations are run at a loss, they are dependent on the government for Advertisement revenues. The following article by Mr Aditya Sinha (ex-editor DNA) illustrates how former I & B minister Ambika Soni armtwisted DNA to ensure compliance. [link]
b) An RTI query (Link to Document) has revealed how huge advertisements are given to these electronic news organizations. Will the government please explain the logic of advertising NREGA on NDTV? How many farmers watch NDTV 24x7? Or is the citizen to assume that this is just a way to ensure favorable coverage?
c) It is widely believed that threats from IT which has become the new CBI are used as a weapon to force channel owners into submission. This has seriously eroded the independence of media houses. It has been reported that the Timesgroup was served an eviction notice from their government alloted premise in Mumbai. Could this notice have been rescinded in return for present favorable coverage by timesgroup towards the government?
d) It is open knowledge that a controlling stake in various media houses is owned by industrial groups and foreign organizations with dubious intent. None of the channels declare their ownership structure which is the guiding force on the spin that they provide to their 'journalism'. The following site provides a glimpse of their cross-holding structure. [link]
e) Journalists like Burkha Dutt and Vir Singhvi have a serious issue of credibility after the exposure of the Radia tapes, where they were caught lobbying for certain ministers or providing a spin to stories to suit their paymasters. Most reporters 'look the other way' in return for 'interviews', 'exclusives', free trips, luncheons and 'awards' from their fraternity. Even the following press-council report seriously indicts journalists [link]. One can read more about the conduct of these 'journalists' in the recently concluded Congress shivir here
f) Indian journalism which once had great editors like Mr Arun Shourie, now has the likes of Mr Vinod Sharma, who openly admits in this interview that he has opposed the Congress only once and will always follow only the editorial line dictated by the newspaper owner.
On the whole it is a conspiracy of silence and fake outrage where compromised individuals have hypocritically declared themselves to be shining examples of journalism and honesty and no-one from their Profession exposes them.
Indian journalism has been reduced to a mutual admiration society that awards itself every weekend and subjects the viewer to the mind-numbing horror of the same.
Did the undermining of Indian Journalism start with the Timesgroup?
Below is an excerpt from the report that PCI tried to bury. The reader can draw their own conclusions.
“In recent years, corruption in the Indian media has gone way beyond the corruption of individual journalists and media organizations: from “planting” information and views in lieu of favours received in cash or kind, to more institutionalized and organized forms of corruption wherein publishers of newspapers and owners of television channels receive funds for publishing or broadcasting information in favour of particular individuals or corporate entities that is disguised as “news”.
In the 1980s, after Sameer Jain became the executive head of Bennett, Coleman Company Limited (BCCL), publishers of the Times of India (TOI) group of publications, the rules of the Indian media game began to change. Besides initiating cut-throat cover-price competition, marketing was used creatively to make BCCL one of the most profitable media conglomerates in the country
The media phenomenon that has caused considerable outrage of late has been BCCL’s 2003 decision to start a “paid content” service called Medianet, which, for a price, openly offers to send journalists to cover product launches or personality-related events.
Besides Medianet, BCCL devised another “innovative” marketing and PR strategy. In 2005, ten companies, including Videocon India and Kinetic Motors, allotted unknown amounts of equity shares to BCCL as part of a deal to enable these firms to receive advertising space in BCCL-owned media ventures. The success of the scheme turned BCCL into one of the largest private equity investors in India. At the end of 2007, the media company boasted of investments in 140 companies in aviation, media, retail and entertainment, among other sectors, valued at an estimated Rs 1,500 crore.
According to the Election Commission of India, it has been observed that restrictions on the printing and publication of posters and pamphlets and the obligations to be fulfilled thereunder, by the printers especially, are “seldom observed”. Rarely are copies of the posters etc. printed by the printing presses furnished to the District Magistrates and the Chief Electoral Officers concerned, said the Election Commission of India in a statement to the Press Council of India. When the Press Council of India contacted Shri S.K. Mehndiratta, Legal Adviser to the Election Commission of India, he stated that the newspaper being referred to by the Commission in this context was the Times of India and that the letter had been issued by the Commission to the newspaper before the 2004 general elections.”
Undermining Democracy with paid news.
Shri Sainath (Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu ) in his deposition before the Press Council of India on December 13, 2009, and again on January 27, 2010, observed that the general elections of 2009 witnessed a paradigm shift in the manner in which candidates and political parties worked hand in glove with the press and media houses in masquerading advertisements of candidates and parties as political “news”. He stated:
Some of the instances of bias in the news media
The bias seen in channels like NDTV24x7, CNN-IBN,TIMES-NOW etc are plain for all to see everyday. Below are some of the extreme cases of biased reporting and misreporting that have occurred .
In case the reader believes that it is only the English news and print media that is corrupted, the PCI report goes on to give instances of perversion of the Hindi Press. The Hindi publications indicted in the report are Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan, Amar Ujala, Aaj , Urdu Sahara and Rashtriya Sahara
Examples of paid news from the Hindi Press
Here are excerpts from what three contestants from the Ghosi Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh told Pratham Pravakta (July 16, 2009):
Samajwadi Party candidate Shri Arshad Jamal said: “Newspapers such as Dainik Jagran, Hindustan, Amar Ujala, Aaj and Urdu Sahara asked me for money and offered ‘packages’ varying between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.”
Communist Party of India candidate Shri Atul Kumar Anjaan said: “I have received phone calls from representatives of two of the largest newspapers in north India, Dainik Jagran and Hindustan. They asked me for Rs 15 lakh each for coverage of my campaign in their publications. When I rejected these offers, Dainik Jagran did not published anything about my activities between March 22 and April 16, the newspaper did not even publish any report about the rally that was addressed by the CPI General Secretary Shri A.B. Bardhan.
BJP candidate Shri Ramiqbal Singh said the following in an interview to Pratham Pravakta reporter Shri Rupesh Pandey in Lucknow on February 5, 2010: “During the election campaign in 2009, the bureau chief of Dainik Jagran came to me and asked me to pay money for coverage. He said that members of his bureau were just following instructions given to them by their head office. He demanded Rs 15 lakh from me.
The Congress candidate from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh Dr Santosh Singh stated the following in an interview to Pratham Pravakta (July 16, 2009): “After I had filed my nomination paper, a representative of the Varanasi edition of Dainik Jagran contacted me and asked me to buy one of two ‘packages’ worth Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively, for which I was offered comprehensive coverage of my election campaign. Another newspaper, Aaj, asked for an amount varying between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh. The representatives of these newspapers who met me said they were merely following orders given to them by their managements… These representatives told me that they are just following the order of management. I did not pay any money”.
Shri Ramakant Yadav of the BJP who contested and won the Lok Sabha election from Azamgarh stated the following in an interview in Pratham Pravakta (July 16, 2009): “Hindustan newspaper asked me to pay Rs 10 lakh for publishing ‘news’ about my election campaign. I refused to pay any money. In an article, the newspaper claimed I would lose the election. But, now that the results have been declared, you know that I won.”
On April 13, 2009, the Ranchi edition of Dainik Jagran published two “news” items on page 7, both relating to the Chatra Lok Sabha constituency. The first item was in favour of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) candidate Shri Nagmani (one name) with the headline stating: “Nagmani is getting support from every class and section” virtually declaring that he would become the undisputed winner. The same page had another “news” item claiming that Shri Arun Kumar Yadav, a candidate belonging to Janata Dal (United), who contested from the same constituency, would emerge a “clear winner”. Both the items do not carry any byline although the font used is different from the font used for other news articles in the publication. On April 16, the Patna edition of Hindustan published a banner headline stating that the “Congress is ready to create history in Bihar” but curiously, there was no news item related to this headline.
Shri Sanjeev Pandey, a freelance journalist based in Chandigarh, provided the Press Council of India, with over 70 clippings from different newspapers that were published from Haryana. All the clippings were from newspaper editions printed in the run-up to the assembly elections in Haryana and appeared to be “paid news” items.
The Rohtak edition of Haribhoomi published a news item on October 8, 2009 in favour of Congress candidate Shri Birendra Singh. Shri Singh was contesting assembly elections from Uchana constituency. However, this news item carried no byline. This news item claimed that Shri Singh had been getting support from all and sundry in society. Detailed descriptions of the plans of his election campaign were also mentioned. Using the same format, Haribhoomi published a news item in favour of BJP candidate Shri Meva Singh the following day, that is, on October 9, 2009. Giving an account of BJP National President Shri Rajnath Singh’s rally, this news item claimed that “after this rally Meva has got support from each and every section of society”.
The Panipat edition of Dainik Jagran published a news item on page 9 of its edition dated October 8, 2009, that was in favour of the electoral prospects of the Congress. The news item did not carry any byline. The headline of the news item stated that the “good work” done by the Congress had marginalised the electoral prospects of the leader of the Opposition in the state. Each and every sentence of this news item is in favour of the Congress party. This news item criticises leaders of non-Congress parties and says that they would not be able to make a mark in the elections because the Congress had done very good work for every section of society. This news item added that candidates of the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) led by Shri Bhajan Lal would not be able to harm the electoral prospects of candidates belonging to the Congress.
By way of contrast, the Ludhiana edition of the same newspaper published a news item in favour of the HJC on October 11, 2009, with a headline that stated that the HJC would play the role of king or king-maker after the elections. Each line of this news item sings paeans of praise in favour of the HJC and prophesised that the party would play a very important role in forming the government after the poll results are declared. Surprisingly, on the very next day, that is, on October 12, 2010, the Ludhiana edition of the same newspaper again published a news item that was apparently paid for in favour of Shri Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana and is credited to “a reporter”. The headline of this news item states that INLD would obtain electoral benefits against the incumbent ruling party, that is, the Congress.
In stark contrast to the post-poll projections of the earlier news items, each line of the last-mentioned news item clearly favours the INLD. This news item reported that there was a “wave” in favour of the INLD in Haryana and went on to predict a clear victory for Shri Chautala and the INLD. The news story claimed that the INLD would be able to easily win the magical number of 46 constituencies that would be required to obtain a majority in the state assembly in order to form a government. This news item states that the Congress party was “struggling” because of internal feuds and that this would benefit the INLD. The story did not end there.
On the next day, that is, on October 13, 2009, the Ludhiana edition of the Dainik Jagran reverted to praising the Congress in another news item. There is no credit line given to this news story, the headline of which claimed that the Congress was ready to “repeat the history” that was made during the Lok Sabha elections when the Congress won handsomely in the state. Every single line of this particular news story praises the Congress party and the Chief Minister of Haryana Shri Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The news item claimed that non-Congress parties would perform poorly in the elections, that their candidates would forfeit their deposits and went on to make a prediction that the Congress would win 75 out of the 90 seats in the state assembly.
Despite this voluminous evidence, the press council of India chooses not to act and instead subverts the publication of this report. Instead of impleading itself and advocating for publishing the entire Radia tapes, it chooses to be silent. What does Mr Katju have to say by way of explanation for this conduct of PCI?
The common man probably believes that Doordarshan is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the government. But the citizen needs to wonder if these so called 'independent' news providers are any different?
Author : manekshaws | Follow the writer on twitter/manekshaws
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Disclaimer: The author is a commentator on issues of national interest. These are his personal views and do not necessarily reflect IBTL's opinion.
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