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Sensationalism, unprofessionalism and biasness in Media reporting

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By Nithin Sridhar

The filing of First Information Report (FIR) on October 3 by Saharanpur police in Uttar Pradesh against Delhi’s Ritu Rathaur (@RituRathaur) received extensive media coverage especially by Hindi channels. She was booked for attempting to disrupt communal harmony by posting rumors and sensational posts on social media.

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The FIR was registered after Rathaur posted the photo of a dead sub-inspector with the comment that he was mowed down after he tried to stop the truck carrying beef. Refuting the claim, the UP government claimed that the sub-inspector was killed by a truck carrying river-stones. The tweets of Ritu Rathaur (which she has apparently deleted now) and the UP government can be seen in this image.

The broadcasting of the news by a few noteworthy news channels like News 24, India TV, ABP News raised serious questions on the ethics and the standards of constructive journalism.

Anchors of media channels kept reiterating that Rathaur is a BJP leader and tried to instill into audiences’ mindset the BJP was behind communal disharmony (read riots) across India.

Rathaur is neither a leader nor an office bearer in BJP. Arvind Gupta of BJP IT Cell has tweeted, saying she is not part of BJP IT/SM cell.

One channel even opined that Ms Rathaur was well linked with BJP top brass as she frequently shared tweets from BJP leaders. A media house failing to differentiate between a party cadre and a leader points towards the degradation of journalism standards. Jumping to conclusion and acting as the judiciary further made the situation atrocious. Before the probe reports were filed, media houses pronounced Rathaur to be guilty. Rathaur differed with the UP government’s version on the death of sub-inspector Tyagi but that does not make her a liar or rumor monger.

The issue of character assassination is nothing new in media. The case of Jasleen Kaur too had similar features with news channels literally framing the accused Sarvjeet Singh before the probe was even completed. The callousness of the media resulted in Singh losing his job. A repetition of the same phenomenon can be seen in the coverage of the Ms. Rathaur issue. The news channels repeatedly upheld the account of the UP government as final unquestionable truth and pronounced Ms. Rathaur as guilty of spreading rumors. But, there are some questions that remain unanswered by the UP government or the media. Senior journalist Surajit Dasgupta has pointed these gaps in his tweets.

Hence, the manner in which the news anchors became the police, judge and the jury in portraying Rathaur shows the downtrend in professionalism.

The channels further tried to give a communal flavor to Rathaur’s tweets by questioning her motive behind her posts about an earlier incident at a time when the situation was charged with tension due to Dadri incident.

Moreover, the YouTube videos of the news reported in all these channels are biasaed saying that an FIR against Rathaur has been filed for linking sub-inspector’s death with Dadri lynching. But, the tweet of Ms. Rathaur reveals no such intentions. From the tweet, it appears that the tweet was a response to Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s article wherein he squarely blames PM Narendra Modi for all communal tensions including that of Dadri.

So, how did a tweet which does not even mention Dadri link the sub-inspector’s death with the Dadri incident? The tweet was clearly a commentary on the media that tries to criticize Modi for every ill in the society but showed no communal motive. One channel went even further and clubbed the issue of FIR against Rathaur with the statements made by Mavia Ali, Chairman of Deoband municipality in Saharanpur district, who virtually called for the killing of Sadhvi Prachi.

How are the issues even related? Why did the news channels try to attribute non-existent communal motive to Rathaur by clubbing her with known communal elements or with communal incidents? There can be only one answer. In this case, the media was avoiding the real sensational events and trying to rake up a controversy by making a person a scapegoat

The coverage of Rathaur issue has again exposed the pseudo-sensationalism that is practiced by the media for the sake of TRPs. It has also exposed the crass biasness and the hidden agendas of many of the journalists and media houses. Irrespective of whether Rathaur is guilty or not, the media should have exerted restraint and exhibited professionalism in covering the issue. Sensationalism, biasness, unprofessionalism, and fostering hidden agendas do great harm not only to the reputation of the fourth estate but also to the nation as a whole.

 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. I agree with Nithin Sridhar entirely. Partisan journalism has become the bane of the country. The attack on individuals who make use of social media to air their opinion is deplorable, because it is in clear violation of the Constitutional guarantee of the freedom of expression. It is the mainstream media which is misusing that freedom in an organized fashion, and their opinions and views have a far greater impact on the general public getting misled or provoked than a tweet from a private individual. Social media has become a thorn in the sides for both the ruling regimes as well as the mainstream media industry as their capacity to manipulate public opinion has been greatly reduced. In the interest of a more progressive nation, it is imperative that the new government at the centre removed all restrictions on social media and gave it freedom at par with the mainstream media.

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PM Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modii. IANS

New Delhi, Oct 5: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday greeted the nation on the occasion of Valmiki Jayanti.

“Greetings on Valmiki Jayanti. A great sage and master litterateur, his rich ideals and works guide generations…,” Modi tweeted on the birth anniversary of Sanskrit poet Maharishi Valmiki.

Valmiki is the author of the epic Ramayana. The original texts written by the sage consists of 24,000 shlokas and seven cantos (kandas) including Uttara Kanda. (IANS)

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PM Narendra Modi Condemns Religious Violence on 71st Indian Independence Day, Warns “Will Not Accept Violence In The Name Of Faith”

PM Modi pitched in the slogan of "Bharat Jodo" (Unite India) this Independence Day.

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Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation. VOA
  • India celebrates 71st Independence Day
  • Indian PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the Red Fort
  • “We cannot accept violence in the name of faith,” said PM Modi in his address to the countrymen

New Delhi, August 15, 2017: As India celebrates its 71st Independence Day, the countrymen alike waited for the dynamic Indian Prime Minister’s address to the nation. Pitching for harmony and peace in his address today, the Indian Prime Minister condemned violence in the name of astha (faith).

Following the unfurling of the national flag at Red Fort, Prime Minister Modi began his address to fellow Indians with the aspiration of building a ‘new India’, emphasizing that the country dwells upon concepts of equality and no distinctions should be made amongst people.

Throughout his address, the Indian Prime Minister touched upon issues that have been relevant in the Indian Diaspora in the last couple of months including the turmoil in Kashmir, Gorakhpur tragedy, demonetization, and triple talaq.

Referring to the persisting unrest in Kashmir, PM Modi spoke about the gali (abuse) and goli (bullet) association, asserting that these will not help resolve the issue. He emphasized on the need to embrace all Kashmiris.

Talking about violence, he also added that the country will show no mercy to terrorists, however they are free to enter the mainstream and have their issues addressed. PM Modi further stressed about countering the ill plaguing the world today saying that with India’s rising stature, it is supported in its stand to fight the menace of terrorism by the entire world.

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In his nationwide address from the Red Fort, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asserted that violence in the name of astha (faith) will not be accepted, calling casteism and communalism “poison” for the country.

This comes in a context where an increasing number of mob lynching cases have taken place, witnessing outrage in the country.

Touching upon the issue of casteism and religion, the PM asserted that India is a country of “shanti, ekta and sadbhavna” (peace, unity and goodwill) and that distinction on caste, community or religion, will not help us in our entirety.

As part of religious violence, religion acts either as the subject or the object of violent behavior. It is either motivated by, or is a reaction to religious beliefs, texts or doctrines. Contrary to popular notion, religious violence does not only refer to acts committed by religious groups, but also include attacks on religious groups. In the last few months, there have been significant such cases reported in India, including cases of mob lynching and attacks by cow vigilantes.

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In his address, the Indian Prime Minister also asserted that the country had previously operated on the lines of “Bharat Chhodo” (Quit India) but now, that has transformed to “Bharat Jodo” (Unite India).

 


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Sainik School Model to be Incorporated in Non-Military Schools, suggests Prime Minister’s Office to HRD

The elements of military school training the PMO wants to introduce in regular schools include discipline, physical training and ‘patriotic sentiments’

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Two Army T-55 Tanks dedicated to Sainik School, Korukonda. Wikimedia
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July 21, 2017: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has advised the HRD Ministry to include elements of a military school in regular schools too. This will incorporate discipline, physical fitness, and patriotism in non-military schools. The PMO has suggested the inclusion of such elements in all schools for “holistic development” of students. According to a report, the meeting on Tuesday, July 18 was called out by the PMO to discuss the proposal with Senior HRD officials.

The idea of introducing military elements in schools was first introduced under the NDA government at a meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (highest government advisory body on education) held in October last year. In the meeting, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of state for HRD accentuated the importance of military education for students to promote the idea of patriotism and nationalism, mentioned Indian Express report.

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Sainik Schools were established in 1961 to prepare youngsters for the defense services. Click To Tweet

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Students at these residential schools have to join the National Cadet Corps (NCC), undergo rigorous physical training and adopt patriotic lives. The Ministry of Defence directs 25 such schools.

Stressing on the binding need for nationalism and patriotism in CABE meeting, Madhya Pradesh’s education minister also affirmed that more Sainik Schools should be set up by the government.

-Prepared by Staff writer at Newsgram