Sunday, January 10, 2010

3rd letter to Editors Guild

My third letter to Editors Guild. The context is explained in point number 2 here.

Dear President,

In my effort to bring to your notice specific incidents of media's over zealousness, I am writing about an incident that took place last evening (7th January, 2010) in Andhra Pradesh. My earlier two letters also had specific examples and suggestions too, and this letter will be in similar vein.

Last night, at about 7 pm, a news channel TV5, started telecasting breaking news that a Russian tabloid "The Exile" has published a conspiracy theory on its American edition that in India, the Chief Minister of AP might have been killed by none other than Mukesh Ambani! To any person with a little common sense, the theory in itself sounds preposterous and laughable.

The Exile published this "conspiracy theory" within hours (yes, within hours) of YSR's death being confirmed. The Exile is neither an acclaimed investigative website nor is renowed for serious journalism (quite evident from the content of the website).

However, TV5 seems to think differently. In its attempt to grab some headlines (I cannot think of any other explanation), the editor had a full 3 hour talk show on this conspiracy theory.

Emotions are already running high in the state. With such news breaking out, the hooligans were at it again. Practically all over the state, rowdies began to attack all Reliance outlets (it didn't matter to them that Mukesh and Anil owned them differently). Another spectre of vandalism taking precedence over logic was witnessed in our state, which is already reeling with heavy losses.

If this is not irrepsible journalism, then what is? The DGP of AP has done the right thing by filing cases against TV5, but now the channel is saying they did no wrong. The violence is not their responsibility. They did not at any point suggest Mukesh did it, and they were merely quoting from the internet. Legally they might be safe sir, but morally, ethically they have behaved in a most detesting manner and are refusing to take responsibility for escalating violence in the state.

It is nobody's contention that the delayed investigation might lead to more questions. The correct path is to question why there is this delay, not to quote some obscure website that prides itself in yello journalism, and then say such doubts arise because of delayed investigations.

I keenly hope that Editors Guild takes a note of this blatant disregard to journalistic ethics by TV5 (and subsequently by Sakshi TV and NTV) and issues some kind of statement condemning this shameful decision.

PS: A condenation was issues by Editors Guild later in the evening. I am not saying it is because of this letter :), just giving the information,lest people think no statement was issued.


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