Monday, April 22, 2013

NDTV's double standards on twitter abuse

This article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it below for reference.

Those who tweet regularly are quite familiar with the common complaints of the media folks - I am being abused. NDTV's group editor, Barkha Dutt, always goes a step further. At every available opportunity, she talks about the need to regulate social media to contain this abuse and how "online venom" is dangerous etc. Given her strong position this, one would imagine that NDTV will never give a platform for known abusers. And here's where NDTV stumped everyone - twice in a week! 

The topic for their weekly show, The Big Fight, was "Twitter wars" - alluding to the recent hashtag "war" on twitter between supporters of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. And quite expectedly, the moderator of this show, Mr. Vikram Chandra (who is also CEO, NDTV) bought in the topic of "abuse". So far, so good. 

One of the panelists on this show was Mr. Sanjay Jha, known quite well for his abuse and a regular face of the Congress on many TV channels (including NDTV). A newslandry journalist pointed this out on the show itself - he read out an abusive tweet in which Mr. Sanjay Jha calls Mr. Narendra Modi as "badmaash". This was just a sample. Mr. Sanjay Jha is capable of far worse (even makes wierd, unwanted references to Mr. Modi's personal life). Mr. Sanjay Jha proudly agreed to this - that he strongly stands by that tweet. He says that it is the "truth" that Mr. Modi is a "badmaash".

I asked Vikram Chandra if he believed this amounted to abuse. He agreed. I asked him why he didn't do anything about it when this happened on his show. I am yet to receive a logical and satisfactory answer. 

Not to be left behind, almost parallely, another high profile journalist of NDTV, Sreenivasan Jain did a program on the exact same topic. This was not a debate but just a 20 minute show, bizarrely titled, "Truth vs Hype". Sreenivasan Jain went a step further and interviewed the worst ever serial abuser the net has ever seen - Amaresh Mishra. 

Amaresh Mishra has threatened to kill people. He even threated to kill the Gujarat CM, Mr. Narendra Modi. He is a known Congress leader. There have been news items on him before his advent on twitter. He claims that he met Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi recently and discussed with them! 

Infact, in their show, NDTV clearly shows a tweet in which Amaresh Mishra wishes that "sanghis" are raped and killed. And they very mildly ask him "is this not abuse?". The mild tone is difficult to miss - one should contrast this to the posture NDTV anchors adopt to "abuse" on twitter. Amaresh Mishra then goes on to explain how they worked as a team to make sure one hashtag was trending. 

Despite such clinching evidence, NDTV merrily airs the 2 minute segment on Amaresh with not even a mild rebuke. And suddenly one day we see, that the 2 minute clip on the program is edited out! Many tweeple have persistently questioned Sreenivasan Jain on why this clip was removed - was it because of Amaresh's reference to meeting Rahul Gandhi? Sreenivasan Jain replies back saying they took that clip out because a tweeter alerted them about Amaresh's death threat to her! 

The explanation is bizarre to say the least! Does he mean to say that if the said tweeter hadn't alerted, he (and NDTV) had no qualms in giving platform to such a blatant abuser? NDTV itself has aired his abusive tweets and has tried to equate them with non-descript abuse from independent tweeters. Why has NDTV decided to be a platform for helping Amaresh Mishra spread abuse and hatred? Why does NDTV not have any reservations on airing abuse by Sanjay Jha?

Day in and day out, many anchors rant about being abused. And merrily and happily, they provide a platform to known abusers from the Congress side. "Twitter war" is not a new phenomenon. Over the past 3-4 years, the monopoly of the english TV media was being challenged on social media. The "war" has been happening since 3-4 years, but the media chose to ignore it because it exposes them! But curiously (and perhaps conveniently) today, the media wakes up to a BJP vs Cong "war" and tries to further their agenda of "rampant abuse" on twitter! And in doing this, NDTV takes the help of known abusers! The irony can't get anymore amusing. 


Deepak said...

Excellent post.

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Neha Verma said...

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