Supari journalism: A section of media crossing ethical line, says Kumar Vishwas

Is a section of the media overstepping the ethical boundary while covering the Aam Aadmi Party? Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwl and senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas strongly believe so.

Debobrat Ghose May 04, 2015 22:55:55 IST
Supari journalism: A section of media crossing ethical line, says Kumar Vishwas

New Delhi: Is a section of the media overstepping the ethical boundary while covering the Aam Aadmi Party? Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwl and senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas strongly believe so.

Always in an uneasy relationship with the media, Kejriwal launched his most scathing attack on the latter on Sunday saying "A section of the media has accepted ‘supari’ (contract) to finish off AAP." In an interview to a newly launched news website he also called for a “public trial of the media”.

Supari journalism A section of media crossing ethical line says Kumar Vishwas

Kumar Vishwas. AFP

The ruling AAP has come under media fire on the issue of Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar's degree and in the matter of the alleged suicide by a farmer at a rally led by the party at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The latest is the one involving Vishwas. Refuting the allegations of “illicit relationship” with an AAP woman worker levelled against him in news channels, Vishwas said that a few news channels, promoted by a particular political party, had been trying to malign the image of AAP leaders. "It's through character assassination," he added.

"This is an attempt to tarnish the image of AAP leaders and character assassination by the media. A few channels are showing the news item stating it as an ‘illicit relationship’ and these channels are either promoted by the politicians or corporate houses backed by a particular political group. I’ve urged the media to go for the truth rather than doing witch-hunting. At least the media should stick to its ethics. Even, during the great battle of Mahabharat, there was some ethics," Kumar Vishwas told Firstpost.

He added, "The lady (AAP worker) concerned addresses me and my wife as ‘Bhaiyya’ and Bhabhi’. She mailed me saying ‘Bhaiyya, I’ve lodged a police complaint and let me know what to do next’. She also told me that a few BJP leaders have been trying to malign her and her family by connecting my name with them. Let the channels spread as much dirt possible, I’ll fight till the end.”

The media experts do not differ much on the issue.

Senior journalist and former editor, India Today (Hindi), Jagdish Upasane remarked, “There’s no doubt that a section of the media, especially news channels are biased and prejudiced. There’s severe lack of credibility, responsibility and accountability on their part. Moreover, they are insensitive towards the cause and the victims. A journalist has to be objective and their personal choice or ideological leaning shouldn’t get reflected in the reportage or story. But unfortunately, it’s on rise, especially with the new generation. If journalists continue to overstep limits and resort to unethical practices, a day will come when public won’t spare them.”

However, he added, “Simultaneously, politicians, who are one of the most powerful people in the society, can’t complain about the media targeting them. Whether it’s Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal or PM Narendra Modi or any other leader, the media will criticise and pull them up when need arises.”

Rifat Jawaid, editor-in-chief of the newly launched news website ‘jantakareporter.com’, at whose event Kejriwal had made the anti-media remark, told Firstpost, “The reason of my launching this news portal is to carry out true and impartial journalism. After my stint with the BBC London, I came back to India but I found a sudden rise in unethical journalistic practices in the television industry. We have high class reporters in India, but unfortunately they have to serve the interests of politicians and corporate houses if they want to earn a livelihood. There’s zero trust in TV news industry. After all, as reporters, who are we to take sides? Our job is to present facts in a transparent manner.”

Brand management experts opine that it happens due to ‘incessant chase of the TRPs and revenue targets’ by TV channels.

"Unlike in the past, the unethical journalism practiced today in many news channels has been due to chasing the TRPs and getting more business through ads. That's why such incidences are less in print journalism. News channels want sensationalism to attract viewers’ attention and thereby increase their rating. As a result, they cross the limit that defines the ethics of journalism. But, in the process, gradually there’s a rise in trust deficit and credibility, which will be detrimental for the Indian media in the long run," said Indrajit Deb, an independent ad and brand professional.

Added AAP leader and spokesperson Ashutosh, "We're not questioning the independence of the media, but there’re a few news channels backed by the politicians, who try to defame the political leaders of opposite parties, without valid evidences. This is absolutely unethical. Their objective is to use journalism as a tool to attack the opponents."

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