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Since 1992, 27 Indian journalists investigating corruption have been murdered, says Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) of New York

Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are the most dangerous areas to report from, given their "volatile" institutional structures and "complex" civil societies, the report said

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New Delhi, September 1, 2016: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-profit organisation based in New York, stated that as many as 27 journalists have been murdered in Indian direct retaliation for their work since 1992.

Lately, the CPJ reported, ‘Dangerous pursuit: In India, journalists who cover corruption may pay with their lives’, tells the stories of Jagendra Singh in Uttar Pradesh, Umesh Rajput in Chhattisgarh and Akshay Singh in Madhya Pradesh.

“The challenges faced by India’s press are highlighted by the cases of Jagendra Singh, Umesh Rajput, and Akshay Singh. Corruption was the impetus for all three journalists’ final reports and in all three cases, there have been no convictions,” Sumit Galhotra, CPJ’s Asia Program senior research associate, wrote in the report.

Freelancer Jagendra Singh, who died after being set on fire allegedly by the police in June 2015, was investigating allegations that a local minister was involved in land grabs and a rape. Before he was shot dead in January 2011, Umesh Rajput was investigating allegations of medical negligence and claims that the son of a politician was involved illegal gambling. Investigative reporter Akshay Singh was working on a story linked to the US $1 billion Vyapam admissions scandal — tests for professional jobs run by the Madhya Pradesh government — “when he died unexpectedly in July 2015”.

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Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are the most dangerous areas to report from (statistics do not put Chhattisgarh in the top three), given their “volatile” institutional structures and “complex” civil societies, the report said.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global advocacy, called India“Asia’s deadliest country for Media personnel, ahead of both Pakistan and Afghanistan”, IndiaSpend reported in April 2016.

The CPJ report also shows how small-town journalists face greater risks than those from larger cities, and how India’s culture of impunity is leaving the country’s Mediavulnerable to threats and attacks. “They rarely get support from their employers if they are targeted,” Sujata Madhok, general secretary of the DelhiUnion of Journalists, told CPJ. “The gulf between journalists working in rural or remote areas and those working in big cities is huge”.

“The language a reporter writes in and, most importantly, what they are writing about — especially if it challenges the powerful — increase the vulnerability,” P. Sainath, co-founder of People’s Archive of Rural India, wrote in the report.

“While rural and small-town journalists often have to cover multiple beats, those included in CPJ’s list focused mainly on corruption, crime, and politics: three beats often closely intertwined,” the report said. “This hasn’t changed too much in the past three decades, but it has become worse with the retreat of the mainstream Media from covering rural India in any depth.”

Police are responsible for the first stages in any investigation, Geeta Sheshu, consulting editor of The Hoot, a Mediawatchdog, told CPJ. “A faulty first information report, not applying the appropriate sections of the law, not clearly recording witness statements or protecting vulnerable witnesses, and not following up on preliminary investigations can be damaging.”

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The CPJ has made various recommendations to the central government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the death of Akshay Singh and Umesh Rajput, the Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh state governments and the Indian media.

These include: Provide sufficient resources and political support to improve the capacity of authorities to conduct timely investigations and trials relating to crimes against journalists, including freelancers, bloggers, and those who publish news on social media;

Immediately transfer the investigation into the 2015 death of Jagendra Singh in Uttar Pradesh from state police to the CBI; and employers should establish clear mechanisms for staff and freelancers to report threats, harassment, or attacks, and offer appropriate support. (IANS)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    Couldn’t agree more. Vayyapam scam for instance.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Definitely true. It should be seen as a serious matter of concern..these politics are let to control or even take life’s of those working for nation and its ethics.

  • Arya Sharan

    Fair and ethical reporting is the what society demand from the media but when the truth is revealed, the same media has to suffer.

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    Couldn’t agree more. Vayyapam scam for instance.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Definitely true. It should be seen as a serious matter of concern..these politics are let to control or even take life’s of those working for nation and its ethics.

  • Arya Sharan

    Fair and ethical reporting is the what society demand from the media but when the truth is revealed, the same media has to suffer.

Next Story

Facebook Dismisses Report of Journalists’ Frustration With Fact-Checking

The report quoted another factchecker as saying that he was demoralised

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook has dismissed a media report that claimed journalists working as factcheckers for the social media giant are frustrated and are ending partnerships as the company failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.

A report in The Guardian on Thursday said outside reporters have lost trust in Facebook, “which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work”.

Reacting to the report, Meredith Carden, Head of News Integrity Partnerships at Facebook, said the Guardian story presents several inaccuracies.

“Contrary to a claim in the story, we absolutely do not ask fact-checkers to prioritise debunking content about our advertisers,” Carden said in statement.

The report, she added, is based primarily on the account of a single fact-checker who has not been involved with the Facebook fact-checking program for six months.

“We have been committed to fighting misinformation for years now and have strong relationships with our third-party fact-checking partners — we now have 35 partners in 24 countries around the world,” said Facebook.

The report quoted Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a factchecking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years, as saying that the social network is using journalists for handling crisis PR.

“They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care,” said Binkowski, who now runs her own fact-checking site which does not partner with Facebook.

According to Facebook, it values the ongoing partnerships and the work that these journalists do.

The third-party fact checking programme was launched in 2016 after the US Presidential election.

Facebook, data
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“We’re planning to expand the programme to even more countries in 2019,” said Carden.

According to Facebook, three separate researches have found that the overall volume of false news on Facebook is decreasing since it put up third-party fact-checking programme and other anti-misinformation measures in place.

However, The Guardian report said the company has ignored journalists’ concerns.

Some newsroom leaders said “they had grown increasingly resentful of Facebook, especially following revelations that the company had paid a consulting firm to go after opponents by publicising their association with billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros”.

A New York Times investigation in November suggested that the social network hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that “dug up dirt on its competitors” including Soros.

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Reacting to the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg denied they had any prior knowledge about this firm.

“It was later revealed that Sheryl Sandberg had directed her staff to research Soros’s financial interests after he publicly criticised the company,” the Guardian report said.

The report quoted another factchecker as saying that he was demoralised.

“They are a terrible company and, on a personal level, I don’t want to have anything to do with them,” said the anonymous factchecker. (IANS)

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