Wednesday October 18, 2017
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Senior journalists, authors slam scribes for ‘selife with Modi’

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New Delhi: The primary job of journalists as the Fourth Estate of a democracy is to ask tough questions to powers-that-be and in order to do so it is essential that they maintain some distance from the latter (duh).

The logic is simple: if we made friends with those we are supposed to question, we would not be able to perform our foremost duty of holding them accountable. Or so we are taught in journalism schools.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi organized a Diwali Milan function for mediapersons on Saturday at the BJP Headquarters wherein the journalists could be seen jostling and vying with each other to take selfies with the former. The pictures quickly went viral on social media, especially on Twitter, where people began raising questions on the lowering standards and ethics of Indian media.

Senior journalist Nihal Singh while speaking with NewsGram took a dim view of the bonhomie and mob mentality displayed by Modi and the journalists at the BJP Headquarters.

“I think it’s funny and at the same time shameful too. If students indulge in such things, it’s understandable. But not for journalists who are supposed to perform the important task of holding the elected representatives accountable to the people of India,” Singh said.

The fact that there was no question and answer session showed that Modi wanted a controlled environment and one-way communication. This is how he is, the senior journalist added.

“I have read books written about Modi and the best was one written by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay that is ‘Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times’. At a certain stage when the author came close to know the real Modi, the latter cut him off completely.”

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay seems to concur with Singh. NewsGram spoke to the Modi biographer to understand his perspective on the issue.

“There are two kinds of journalists in India: those who take selfies and those who don’t. The lure and fascination for power and inclination to flaunt one’s political connections is stronger in the former. Modi is only obliging such journalists; he is more than happy with a one-way dialogue process. Yet I feel Modi’s romance with the media seems to be almost over if we compare this event with last year’s ‘Diwali Milan’. The enthusiasm was lacking,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Prabhakar Kumar, head of the CMS Media Lab, told NewsGram that such instances make it tough for the journalists to do their real job i.e. asking questions.

“They ought to maintain some distance. Journalists these days wish to flaunt their closeness to ministers and thus their value and worth. Nira Radia case is an apt example in this regard. In a way, we could say that media is not a mirror of the society anymore and this is not good for democracy.

“For instance, in London BBC reporters asked him tough questions like on the ‘growing intolerance’ in the country. Can Indian journalists question him in this regard? It is a pity that he is open to questions in a foreign land, not in India. This is how Modi operates. Even during 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he strategically gave interviews to selected journalists and media houses. He’s the one who chooses and journalists are only obliging him.”

Many senior journalists NewsGram spoke to were of the opinion that ‘Diwali Milan’ reflected poorly on the Indian media.

Shemin Joy, Principal Correspondent with Deccan Herald, said that taking pictures with dignitaries and ministers was fine, but the manner in which it was done spoke volumes about the journalists present there.

“It’s like they were crazy about taking selfies with Modi. The mob mentality of the journalists is the issue. They forget that it’s always their prestige that is at stake, for it reflects poorly on them. Even with Manmohan Singh, my answer would have been the same. In a way, Modi is showing a mirror to media and telling the journalists that ‘this (selfie) is what you deserve and you should be satisfied with it. No need to ask questions.’

“This is happening because of the lowering standards of Indian media. That elegance which used be there once seems to be missing now. It’s no surprise that ‘Presstitude’, an objectionable term, is now associated with the Indian media. Verily, we’re ourselves responsible for our plight.”

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Facebook doesn’t Hire Journalists, says Sheryl Sandberg

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Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg quoted that Facebook doesn't hire Journalists. ians

San Francisco, Oct 14: As people debate Facebook’s role in influencing people during the US presidential elections by Russian ads and fake news on the platform, the company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg has stressed that the social media giant is not a media organization, and therefore does not hire journalists.

Sandberg said that Facebook is run by technical workers and engineers and according to her, the company does not produce news content, therefore it can’t be a media company.

In an interview with US-based news website Axios on Thursday, she said, “At our heart we are a tech company. We hire engineers. We don’t hire reporters. No one is a journalist.”

“We don’t cover the news. But when we say that, we’re not saying we don’t have a responsibility. In fact we’re a new kind of platform… as our size grows, we think we have more responsibility,” the executive was quoted as saying.

Business Insider said a firm that is a major source of news and information for people, generates billions in ad revenue and is producing its own original television shows is classified as a media company and Facebook does all of that.

Contrary to her claim, it hired former NBC anchor Campbell Brown in January to head up the company’s news division and work with other journalists to maximise their use of Facebook’s platform.

Reportedly, Facebook does not want to harm its $500 billion valuations by admitting it is a media company. If the company accepts that it is a media firm, it would open the platform up to regulatory rules in the US and other countries which Facebook would rather avoid.

Facebook
Facebook Ads were considered during US Presidential Elections. Pixabay

Business Insider said Britain was already considering regulations that would treat it more like a media company.

Meanwhile, on the Russian ad issue, Sandberg said the election meddling on the platform “shouldn’t have happened” and she wouldn’t discuss Russia or Trump.

“We know we have a responsibility to prevent everything we can from this happening on our platforms… and so we told Congress and the Intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them,” she said.

Sandberg said that if the Russian-linked ads were posted by “real people” and not fake accounts, Facebook would have let their content remain on the site. “When you allow free expression, you allow free expression.”

“Facebook owes the American people an apology. Not just an apology, but determination for our role in enabling Russian interference during the election,” she said. (IANS)

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Richard Thaler Supported Demonetisation, there is More to the Story

Demonetisation is what Richard Thaler had long supported. However, he remarked "Really? Damn," when he was informed about the introduction of Rs. 2,000 notes in place of the discontinued Rs. 500 and 1,000 notes thereby highlighting how his joy of seeing a step towards a cashless economy and reduction of corruption was momentary.

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Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on 9th October.Wikimedia

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to scrape Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes last November, Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler supported demonetization describing it as a policy that he had long supported.

Dr. Richard Thaler, a Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Chicago won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on 9th October.

Did Richard Thaler really support demonetization in the way BJP took it? There is more to the story than what meets the eye.

As soon as Thaler was declared the Nobel Prize winner, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started sharing Thaler’s tweet regarding demonetization on social media affirming that the move which was severely criticised by the members of the opposition was actually supported by a Nobel Prize winner. The BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya retweeted the old tweet within a fraction of a second.

However, Richard Thaler remarked “Really? Damn,” when he was informed about the introduction of Rs. 2,000 notes in place of the discontinued Rs. 500 and 1,000 note thereby highlighting how his joy of seeing a step towards a cashless economy and reduction of corruption was momentary.

It was not only the BJP supporters but also a large number of BJP leaders who were flowed away with incomplete picture depicted by Malviya and tweeted about it.‬ This included Union Minister Giriraj Singh, former BJP IT Cell Head Arvind Gupta, and many others.

Soon after, twitterati realized that the full picture of Thaler’s statement on demonetization was rather hidden.

Prime Minister Modi declared that the motivation behind scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was to promote cashless economy and reduce corruption. This decision was severely criticised by different sections of the society putting on Modi the ultimate responsibility for heralding economic deceleration. Demonetisation pulled down India’s GDP growth rate to a mere 6.1% in 2016-17.

Some highlighted that the introduction of Rs 2000 note was an ephemeral panacea for remonetization and that its printing has been terminated.

-Prepared by Mohima Haque of NewsGram, Twitter: mohimahaque26

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PM Narendra Modi: Don’t believe in vote bank politics, Nation comes first

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Varanasi, Sep 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, said that the BJP did not believe in vote bank politics as the country was above party politics. This is his second day of the visit to his parliamentary constituency in Varanasi.

Modi told a gathering that he had launched a major war against corruption and the corrupt to ease the life of the common man. He also said cleanliness was worship for him as it could rid the poor of various diseases and a lot of economic burdens.

“Governance for us is not about votes or winning elections. The priority is the development of the nation. For us, the country is bigger than party,” he said, in his address to farmers in Shahanshahpur on the outskirts of Varanasi.

He said most of the problems faced by the common people in India were rooted in corruption.

“I have launched a war against it and will take it further to ensure that graft is weeded out from the country.”(IANS)