The editorial in the Organiser criticises the electronic media for using “breaking news” to support or oppose a particular political disposition. “This approach has shaken the very foundation of the role and ethics of journalism,” it says. “The moment the Delhi election was declared, their tone and temper… changed. Not only through daily TV bulletins but also through their Twitter handles and Facebook pages they have almost started campaigning for the Aam Aadmi Party,” the editorial says. The support declared by some religious groups to the BJP was “vehemently questioned while the open pitching of arch-rivals… in Bengal, CPM and Trinamool Congress, was not even properly reported.”
In the name of opinion polls and surveys, what was reported was “not only [a] deliberate misinformation campaign but [a] gross violation of journalistic conduct during elections”. The editorial blames the media for its other “pet project” to make JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar a national figure: “As special socio-economic agencies, the media’s entrepreneurial objective is limited to providing… information to citizens. What electronic media is trying to be is either a spokesman or adversary of one or the other political outfit. In the process they are either hiding important information or distorting facts.” The editorial says that while questioning the issue of transparency in all other sectors, the media’s own behaviour is under scrutiny with the numbers they are floating during elections: “There is a need to draw clear lines of distinction between news and opinions.”
An Organiser report quotes VHP leader Praveen Togadia saying that the ban on his entry in Bangalore, from February 5 to 12, was a “violation” of his “fundamental rights”. Togadia was to address a mega Hindu Samajotsava organised by the VHP on February 8. “The order by the Bangalore police commissioner is based on hearsay… unverified media reports, concocted internet posts and on the so-called politically motivated cases as old as from 2003, of which most have been already thrown out by the courts,” says Togadia.
According to him, the police should have focused on making the city safer for residents and curbing the activities of jihadists working for extremists like the Islamic State. The article says that “Had Dr Togadia wanted to spread malice, he did not need a rally for it; in the national media, his own social media and a small meeting that he had held… in Bangalore, he could have done so. But as a matter of fact, he has been all the time focusing on spreading Samarasta, health, safety, prosperity and dignity…”
The Panchjanya editorial, a day before the Delhi results, argues that it would be a test for the media itself. The media will not be able to get away citing small samples: “If the surveys are proven wrong on the day of the results, both the media and the AAP would appear to be on the same level — lost, rejected and wrong…” But that will not be the end of the troubles for the AAP.
Compiled by Liz Mathew