Editors’ Guild

Hope Express has not let Vishal Bhardwaj down

Indian Express is letting itself down so badly on the ethics of journalism that it’s a cause for concern for its loyal readers, more so since the Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild appears an acquiescing party due to its silence.

Indian Express has a bottom-spread on its Monday’s Delhi edition where excerpts of film-maker Vishal Bhardwaj’s comments at Express Adda are quoted. The headline states: “TV News comedy circus…maybe Cinema must tell truth” (attributed to Bhardwaj).

However, Bharadwaj’s quote in the text-copy of the story states: “…present-day journalism…feels like a comedy show, it’s like a comedy circus.” Nowhere, Bhardwaj mentions TV news. He mentions present-day journalism. The readers have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj didn’t have Indian Express itself in mind, for all you know.

I suggest readers to read the full story.  Real quotes are added and subtracted to expand or reduce the newspaper’s own agenda/interpretation. For example, see this para below:

That was one of Bollywood’s most political filmmakers, Vishal Bhardwaj, opening up at the Express Adda Friday on why the industry hesitates to speak up when political controversies impact mainstream films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil, which faced calls for bans due to the casting of a Pakistani actor, and Padmavat, which withstood protests for its portrayal of Rajput queen Padmavati.

I have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj did take the name of films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil or Padmavat to make his point (for the full interview would only appear later this week) or whether the newspaper is adding this name to buttress its point/agenda. The above para of the newspaper insinuates he did though I seriously doubt so.

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Same is the case in another front page story Indian Express has on Monday, headlined: Godhra line in book: FIR against four for “misleading students on beloved PM.” This is on an academic book in circulation in Assam.

Just looking at this headline, it would appear the state is trying to muzzle the freedom of speech, neutrality of academic-text books, all because PM Narendra Modi has been portrayed in poor light.

Indian Express, in its report, doesn’t touch the concerned “line in book” till they are in the second-half of the story. The first half is all about a “well-known…90-year-old renowned publisher” and a description of three authors who have been “heads of political science department” of established colleges in Assam. (Shades of a certain retired son of a headmaster in the Valley by the name of Burhan Wani).

So here comes the relevant para on Godhra in the book which offended a couple of citizens enough to file an FIR against the authors and publishers:

“In this incident (burning of coach) 57 persons died including women and children. On the suspicion that Muslims were behind the incident, next day Muslims were mercilessly attacked in different parts of Gujarat. This violence continued for over a month and over a thousand people were killed. Most of those killed were Muslims. Significantly at the time of the violence, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was a silent spectator. Morever, there were allegations that the state administration helped the Hindus.”

Now let’s look at the FIR which states: “It’s well-known to you that Special Investigation Team (Sit) under the supervision of Supreme Court gave clean-sheet on PM Narendra Modi (sic) dated September 12, 2011, on the issue.”

Aren’t the complainants appear rightful on all counts to go ahead and file the FIR? By terming Modi government as silent spectator, aren’t authors suggesting complicity even as the Supreme Court gave a verdict to the contrary, giving clean chit to Modi, no less than seven years back? Doesn’t such mis-representation would only potentially lead to Hindu-Muslims tensions, may be communal clash and certainly a polarization between the two largest religious groups in the country? And what about the innocent children who are thus poisoned by half-truths? In a state, as sensitive to Hindu-Muslim polarization as Assam is?

Not a day passes by when I don’t read such reports in Indian Express which makes me squirm in my chair. As a practicing journalist, I see one guiding hand behind the reporters, sub-editors, headline-givers and positioning of stories on front-pages making them work in sync in antipathy to BJP/RSS. Whosoever this hand is: An activist editor, his employer and his leanings, or the forces keeping the newspaper in an ideological bind or otherwise, the fact is, it is anything but journalism. And that’s a betrayal most heinous to its readers by any newspaper in circulation.

 

Grand Opposition Alliance? You must be joking

Indian Express ran a front page story on Tuesday with the screaming headline: “Maya to Party: Back SP again in coming bypolls…” Times of India, the same day, ran the headline “Maya won’t support SP in bypolls.” One of them for sure is lying.

It doesn’t take long to detect who’s lying. The Times of India story is based on a press statement by the BSP. It’s exact words are: “BSP will not activiate its cadres in any bypolls in future, the way it did it in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.” The backdrop of these developments is the upcoming bypolls in Kairana and Noorpur assembly seats in UP.

Yet Indian Express has completely ignored the press statement. It’s telling its readers—in line with it’s primary function of propaganda abroad—of a communion between the two “warring kingdoms” even though a schism has occurred. (Meanwhile, it’s gleefully jumping up and down in concocting a schism between Reserve Bank of India and the government as its second front page lead).

So create schism where none exist and bury a schism where it does exist!!! Who bells the cat? Surely not your sanctimonious Editors’ Guild or Press Council of India!

Mayawati may change her mind and support SP in UP bypolls in coming days. But that’s a different matter altogether. The issue for the moment is that Indian Express willfully spikes a story which shows not all is well between “babua and bua.” It also ignores Mayawati chiding an “immature Akhilesh Yadav” for SP’s devious role in the recent Rajya Sabha poll.

Meanwhile Indian Express, which catches even a sneeze of the “piddi”, completely ignores the words of Ranjan Chowdhury. The West Bengal Congress chief has plainly said that “Mamata Benerjee is an opportunist leader.” Chowdhary has claimed that Mamata can’t be trusted as anti-BJP voice. He has cited the instance of Mamata siding with Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) which in turn supports BJP inside the Parliament. He has accused Ms Banerjee of inviting BJP in West Bengal in the first place, “who espoused the policy that BJP was not untouchable;” and during her regime “hundreds of RSS shakahas were opened.” Chowdhury further says: “In future, if she thinks she will gain more benefit by allying with BJP, she will do it.”

Tellingly, Chowdhury says: “Mamata is aspirational and wants to become the PM. She does not express her desire in words but her actions make her ambition amply clear.”

So there you are: BSP doesn’t trust SP; Congress doesn’t trust Mamata; one part of the left says join Congress, the other says don’t.  And we have Congress declaring in plain words—in the words of Chowdhury—that all “the regional parties want is to ensure that they are able to extract their pounds of flesh whoever comes to power. Or, if they are lucky somebody can become a Chandrashekhar or Deve Gowda (as PM).”  Chowdhury’s words betray the Congress anxiety in case Rahul Gandhi misses out on Prime Ministership.

So this is the bunch of opportunist opposition who don’t care a hoot about what happens to you or me or to this country. All they want is to extract their “pounds of flesh,” as Chowdhury says. Yet our English mainstream media is swooning over the Grand Alliance in offing.

I mean how shameless could they really get!