An alleged attack on a token journalist happens, and it finds potential to divert the enumerable actual attacks on other journalists which have never been highlighted with half the importance into silence.

Not that people already couldn’t care less about journalists getting killed or harrased, all the attention of such matters has been credited to one person who would appear in all major searches, if one inputs, ‘attack on journalists’ as keywords.

Given the state of the fourth pillar of democracy in our country, whose performance is reflected in it’s awesome rankings, there’s no denying the fact that journalism has faced a heavy blow. India ranks 142nd out of 180 countries on Freedom of Press Index as of 2020 and it keeps getting worse every successive year. The Committee to Protect Journalism (CPJ), reported that our nation ranks 14th among states where journalists are murdered and killers go free. A study titled, “Getting Away With Murder,” revealed that 21 journalists were killed between 2014-19, and not a single conviction has taken place since 2014 against the targeted attacks on journalists for thier investigative works. Looks like the convicts have a licence to kill, but who gives them this license?

The study mentioned earlier reported that the list of perpetrators who attack journalists is inclusive of government agencies, security forces, political parties, local mafia, etc. A very basic inference from such a study is suggestive of the malign intention of the people in power who wish to dastardly silence the ones who dare to speak. Therefore to swift them into silence is the most viable and lucrative alternative.

Image Credits: Instagram/Ravish Kumar
Image Credits: Instagram/Ravish Kumar

Interestingly, silencing can be done in a legal way as well. Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra whose works have been published by Al Jazeera, Washington Post, The Caravan, etc was recently booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which is an anti terror law resembling the Rowlatt Act of 1919. The pictures clicked by the Zahra were deemed to glorify “anti-national” sentiments and dent the image of law enforcing bodies, (the same bodies who are accused of terrorising journalists). Another journalist Gowhar Geelani, who has been heavily vocal about assault on journalism and state of Kashmir was also booked under the same act and there’s an FIR filed against The Hindu’s Srinagar correspondent-Peerzada Ashiq as well. However, Kapil Gujjar and Komal Pandey who have actually managed to terrorise people are living freely. Dalals who masquerade as journalists and spread fake news, instigate communalism, and spread Islamophobia everyday have no trials against them. Looks like there’s a pattern which is adhered to while earmarking as to who gets to be labelled as “anti-national’ and faces contempt of court.

If physical harassment is not enough, defamation cases are filed, spyware attacks are aimed, and mental harassment is dispensed through threat calls and trolling. Journalists are paying a very heavy price for doing their jobs and a growing intolerance towards independent media has landed a lot in hospitals, prisons, courts, and obituaries. From Gauri Lankesh to Shujaat Bukhari to Navin Nishchal to Sandeep Sharma, and to all other journalists who have lost their lives while reporting, current media should remember them, and hang their heads in shame every time they buckle under and tandem to the Power- which is the sole reason for a peevish state of journalism today.

Feature Image Credits: NYC Street Art

Umaima Khanam

[email protected]

Having been let down by women, two egoist and patriarchal characters go down the path of self-destruction, although one is heroic the other is not.

In a contemporary urban location, there is a rich egoist male who falls in love- this is a very common heroic pursuit in mainstream Bollywood, and the 2009 Anurag Kashyap (who has a certain Samuel Fuller and Aronofsky vibe to him) directed the movie Dev.D, and took on this trait to reveal very ironically how flawed a hero can be.

Image Credits: Film Week
Image Credits: Film Companion 

Adapted from Sarat Chandra’s Devdas, this movie is a romantic black comedy musical, with more preference to music than dialogues. Music by Amit Trivedi  fits perfectly with the scenes in the movie.

Dev is a chauvinist who took his childhood love Paro for granted, at one time slapped and embarrassed her, and thought that he actually loved her. He also once believed that she would be the only woman he’d ever love- again a common narrative that there’s just ‘the one’ and no one else.

Dev later realises that his love was flawed, he was flawed, and Paro never returns back to him. It’s not just the utter vulnerability in Dev’s character, but a fresh empowering effervescence of strong female characters which makes the film stand out.

Image Credits: Film Companion
Image Credits: Film Companion

A decade later, comes the movie that proves we are back to square one. Sandeep Vanga directed Kabir Singh which is a remake of Telugu film Arjun Reddy is a story about an egoist, entitled, chauvinist with anger issues who falls in love. The sound track went popular and so did the problematic aspects wrapped up nicely as the charisma of Kabir Singh. As a promoter of independent cinema, and appraiser of a film like Dev.D, I would never object to the portrayal of a problematic character like Kabir Singh who is after all, inspired from our society. An added bonus with Kabir Singh was that it was made with intention to appropriate his flaws and was received largely in the same horizon.

In my personal opinion, I feel that Kabir Singh did teach us a thing or two. It validated that the popular opinion still is to plaudit the hero with underlying misogyny and the success of such a film is representative in the profits it made. Also for all the wrong reasons, it did start a big discussion on male chauvinism. There’s a parallel in the society itself which is depictive of the two kinds of films discussed above, and the popularity and financial success of such movies will always reflect the popular status quo of us as a society.

Feature Image Credits: Filmistaan

Umaima Khanam

[email protected]


With the danger of an outbreak looming upon us, the news we share on social media becomes even more important. 

A study by Microsoft found that over 64 percent of Indians have encountered fake news online, the highest among the 22 countries surveyed. A public health crisis can shoot up the dissemination of irrelevant and fake news, which may include hoaxes to prevent or cure the virus. Famous Chinese messaging app, TikTok and WhatsApp have frequently been victims of videos and messages that claim to provide solutions to stop the virus.

The problem is not limited to facts. A large proportion of messages shared by people have little to do with verifiable facts and peddle prejudiced opinions. This includes influential people as well. Union Minister of State for Health, Ashwini Choubey, claimed that sunlight can improve immunity and kill coronavirus. There have been instances of people claiming that cow urine can cure people of the disease, which has been denied by scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This vividly reflects that people choose to ignore facts owing to a repetition of certain messages within their circles.

Most of such messages reach the least informed people. They are prone to believe the things that they come across. Research published in 2018 has shown that during the Zika Virus outbreak, most popular messages contained fake headlines and content. Rumours obtained three times more shared than verified stories. Interestingly, rumours (20% of them) also portrayed Zika as a conspiracy against the public. This largely captures the behaviour of people when faced with a disease outbreak.

However, stories like these only worsen the situation. People fail to understand government policies and credible news, which do not reach people owing to an overwhelming number of irrelevant news in their inboxes. In a huge pile of messages and articles, the relevant ones are either ignored or are discredited.

By curbing down on such stories, right and requisite information can reach the people. With a dense population, India can get fatally affected by an outbreak, if it ever happens. One form of prevention lies in our hands, by selectively sharing information from verified sources. This boosts our self-interest as well

This obligates media houses as well. As the world of news has become faster due to the internet, media houses rush to get their hands on anything that can pacify their readers. They are notorious for capitalising on unverified stories using captivating headlines and vocabulary. As a need for legitimate news grows, media houses should act as India’s first line of defence to counter fake and irrelevant news.

The Press Information Bureau, along with other fact-checking organisation should work towards curbing the circulation of news and messages that claim unverified prevention measures. People should share correct preventive measures which are verified by organisations like the WHO or the Indian Council of Medical Research.

A truly reliable source of information these days is the WhatsApp contact of the WHO. It is a chat-bot that answers all queries pertaining to the novel coronavirus. Government websites are also equally effective.

The need to change our behaviour is immediate and intense.


Featured Image Credits: The Guardian


Kuber Bathla

[email protected]


Looking at student journalism in Delhi on the occasion of National Press Day, an account of student journalism through the eyes of students. 

 Journalism was and still remains to this day one of the most dangerous, exciting, albeit under-appreciated professions. The case remains more so, In India. media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders released a report in 2018, which put India fifth on the list of the maximum number of journalists killed in 2018, the death count being six. In the current atmosphere, many students at Delhi University (DU) and universities across India look at journalism as a career option. For many students, this career starts from the undergraduate level through college magazines and organizations such as DU Beat where valuable experience on how a media organization functions can fit into a students timetable.

For many students, working in student media and student journalist has been an enriching experience. As Chhavi Bahmba, a first-year student at Sri Venkateswara College and a correspondent for DU Beat says, “Student journalism has been one of the most liberating things, and the highlight of my college life. It has given me access and a platform to write. Also, people around me also get a voice as I can put their thoughts forward. It’s been a stepping stone to my career.”

There is also the fact that deadlines and missing them are one of the deadliest sins in media, and working as a student journalist inculcates that. Aditi Gutgutia, a first-year student at Lady Shri Ram College says, “It compels me to write as a habit and makes me fight the urge to procrastinate.”

According to Faizan Salik, A student from Jamia Millia Believes that exposure is one of the most important aspects of a student journalist as he goes on to say “ it is a veritable bridge that can expose you to multiple dimensions of life which is untouched otherwise and hence promises some good amount of fermentation in the long run.” He also goes on to talk about how it working for that can be a challenge but that is something that he and several others have had to overcome. He says, “Being a part of something like this in a university like Jamia was a challenge that we at The Jamia Review, a student-run journal of Jamia Millia Islamia has taken a step further and hopes to incorporate everything that it requires to achieve our goals.”

There are, of course, negative aspects too, some of which are synonymous with journalism as a profession. Jaishree Kumar, a third-year student at Ramjas says. “I learnt that journalists are treated badly and worshipped. It is also rewarding and exhausting at the same time.”

There are the obvious downsides of handling so much workload along with regular classes, and another problem put up by Jaishree was how working for student newspapers not associated with the College administration also doesn’t help attendance as even though her teachers are supportive of her work, they cannot give her ECA attendance.

In conclusion, in the current politically charged climate, student media has given aspiring journalists a place to hone their skills. The experience that we get is valuable and the experiences and contacts that we build cannot be found anywhere else.

Feature Image Credits: Scopio



Prabhanu Kumar Das

[email protected]



On National Press Day, this piece is an attempt to highlight the lack of verification in mainstream media, and the rise of alternative journalism.

“I want this Government to be criticised. Criticism makes democracy strong. Democracy cannot succeed without constructive criticism,” so said Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, well after he came to power in 2014 on a wave of optimism.

As circumstances have changed, so has the Modi Government’s media strategy. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) oriented, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), often known as the “Modi Government”, faces weakened economy, communal tensions, and unemployment across the country. To shed light elsewhere, they have resorted to hijacking the country’s once free media.

The Government has not created an official state-run news service, but instead relies on independent news organisations to peddle its economic narrative, chastise a Muslim minority, and prey on Hindu anxieties in the country.

In order to achieve this, the Government often relies on media networks called in slang as Modia or Godi Media like Zee News, India TV, Aaj Tak and Republic TV. Out of all, Republic TV appealed to the worst of the Indian media’s characteristics. It was loud, brash, and theatrics mattered more than civil discourse. And sadly, is one of the most viewed channel in mainstream media.

Take this segment for an example articulated well in The Diplomat, it says, “Goswami begins a fiery tirade against Waris Pathan, a member of the legislative assembly for the All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (India’s only large-scale Muslim political party) in which he attacks Pathan for refusing to stand for the national anthem. On eight separate occasions in a mere 30 seconds, Goswami yells some version of ‘Why can’t you stand up for the national anthem?’. He proceeds to claim that he knows why Pathan does not stand. Goswami’s answer? According to Goswami, Pathan is an anti-national.”

If you don’t believe me that all of this is just a facade to distract the gullible audience from pressing national issues to communal politics, and India’s mainstream media is empowered and free, here are some facts which clearly justify — India is ranked at 140th of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index 2019.

As per a statistical survey conducted by Peeing Human, in the past 202 debates held at Zee News, Aaj Tak, News 18 and India TV collectively had 79 debates on Pakistan, 66 debates on attacking opposition, 37 debates praising the RSS and Modi, and not one debate on economy, unemployment, education, women’s safety, healthcare or even the farmer’s crisis, which encompasses 10 suicides by farmers everyday.

A sting operation done by the media house Cobrapost revealed that nearly two dozen media houses were willing to promote a Hindutva agenda and influence coverage for the 2019 elections. Simply put, media channels that are willing to play along find a lucrative payday and increased access by a Government that refuses to hold press conferences.

The BJP’s social media online troll army remains untouched. As Bloomberg noted, the troll farm, referred to as the BJP’s IT Cell regularly sends out death and rape threats to female journalists. A notable case is Barkha Dutt, who is not only viewed as being against Modi’s agenda, but is one of India’s only journalists who provides alternate perspectives on hotbed issues. The social media army is also used to stoke communal hatred, spread fake news, and intimidate those who would take a stand against Modi.

All these facts become much more horrific when realised that media is supposed to be the fourth pillar of democracy and not the slave of political propaganda.

There has been a rise in the need and establishment of alternate media. Alternate media is just like the left to mainstream rightist media. The proliferation of alternative journalism in India has happened, say experts, in the past five years with an attack on fundamental freedoms and a realisation that a space for uncensored information had to be created at personal cost as it were.

Alternate journalism paves way for unbiased, factual and verified news to be provided to mainstream media.

Taking an example of media coverage of Kashmir after scrapping of the Article 370. While Aaj Tak and India TV celebrated this decision and called the lockdown “peaceful”, independent channels like The Quint, Brut India and The Wire broadcasted the true harsh reality of this dictatorial rule.

YouTube channels like Dhruv Rathee’s, take time and space to explain and analysis of political decisions. His videos on the reality of air pollution in Delhi, India’s economic crisis and the Ayodhya verdict are dedicated to provide holistic information from all narratives, based on facts that he even cites in the description.

It has also made news much more accessible, and easy to comprehend. EIC’s outrage series on YouTube provided news in the second most entertaining way possible, appealing to a large audience. First obviously being a debate on Yogi Adityanath’s barber.

Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj, A Netflix series brings light to many hidden issues of national and international relevance. The episodes on Student Loans, Sudan Protests, Indian Elections, and Censorship have been essential in their awareness movements.

Hence, the need for alternative journalism is real. How long would people depend on one anchor at one channel (obviously talking about Ravish Kumar) to prove them with news, not a narrative but news?



Feature Image Credits: Chhavi Bahmba for DU Beat.

Graphic Credits: Kunal Kamra.



Chhavi Bahmba

[email protected]

When was the last time when we managed an escapade from the fascinating content provided by the creative OTT platforms that literally has its subscribers glued to the screens? Perhaps it would be a matter of prior engagements, over the last four years the over-the-top media service has seen a significant consumption, especially with respect to the Indian market which as of now values around INR 3,500 crores and is estimated to rise by many folds to dethrone the television industry and environment altogether. An endless supply of level original content in high definition quality is easily available with an affordable subscription fee, that seems really economical from our recreational budget matrix but the cost that the environment suffers seems extremely exorbitant.

Although streaming platforms like Netflix are extremely cautious with the provision of spectator data, their ‘Prime’ presence everywhere is as shining as a ‘hot-Star’ and hence cannot be ignored like a bad ‘Spotify’ playlist. Millions of people on a daily basis consume a large amount of data on these on-demand content platforms which is binge-watched for hours, inducing a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere we actually need. According to the Shift Project, a French think-tank that claims to advance the shift to a post-carbon economy, ‘Watching a half-hour show would lead to emissions of around 1.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide, that’s equivalent to driving a car for 6.28 kilometres.’

‘Digital videos come in very large file sizes and (are) getting bigger with each new generation of higher-definition video,’ said Gary Cook from Greenpeace, which is administered to look on the IT sector’s energy footprint.

Cook further adds, ‘More data equals more energy needed to maintain a system that is ready to stream this video to your device at a moment’s notice.’

Much of the energy needed for streaming services is consumed by the data centres, which further provides data to our computers and handsets. Reportedly, the centres contribute about 0.3 per cent of all carbon emissions and the ever-increasing steadfast demand for better technologies has stressed our energy sources substantially.

As matters of fact, screens with 4K resolution use about 30 per cent more energy than high-definition screens; upgraded devices and technologies require more amounts of energy to store, process, and share data and further corresponds for increased production and consumption wastes at every level of test and research development praxis.

On the contrary, we are ought to agree that these platforms are extremely entertaining and provide a good dose of change from our monotonous lives but the stringent fact remains that in such hard times where our cities like Kanpur, Gurugram, and Delhi as heavy ‘cyber-hubs’, they also hold the title for the most polluted cities on the planet. The carbon emissions caused by the digital media markers which are expected to rise and expand significantly needs alternative renewable energy sources and judicious sustainable management.

But it won’t be enough for us to rue the online platforms and their capitalist endeavors hindering the environment without realising these suggestions that are put forth by Professor Chris Priest and Dr Dan Schien of the University of Bristol who advocate terrestrial Broadcast TV to be lot more efficient than network streaming, whereas mobile phones continue to be more energy-efficient than a TV or a PC. Professor Priest even underlines the fact that a Wi-Fi connection can be more efficient than a 3G or 4G connection; downloading videos rather than viewing it online could pose as a much better alternative in terms of energy preservation.

Significant steps, conventions and debate continue to stall at the global level with increased stress and collective responsibility being observed worldwide it would continue to be an incomplete effort if small things like these go unnoticed and are not corrected or duly accounted for.


Feature Image Credits: Lighthouse insight

Faizan Salik

[email protected]

Read how romanticising the nuanced conflict of Kashmir negates the trauma of its ground-reality.

There is a thing about pedestals- they act as an ideal way of distancing oneself from the responsibility of the reality. If one puts anything at a pedestal by glorifying it, and the sentiment acquires a ripple effect, then the glorified entity remains a far-away dream in popular imagination, because it is now an ideal one can seldom aspire to reach, or to change. In the mindset of countless individuals around the globe, the Kashmir Valley is on such a pedestal.

When we think of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir as twenty-first century young adults, not directly involved in its reality, it is almost always through a lens of Bollywood’s aesthetic frames. There is no denying the natural endowment of the Valley when it comes to its aesthetics, but this imagination often serves as a method to deny the human endowment of war and trauma in its past, present, and foreseeable future.

The mainstream media does not help change anything for us. Mainstream news outlets that reach the masses away from the site of conflict are often restricted by their own reasons- commercial, political, and populist- to present a Kashmir wronged by ‘the other’ (Pakistan, terrorists, violent militants) to us. What is activated in the Valley from the Indian end is either not revealed entirely, or is looked at as a retaliation on provocation. Movies exploit this narrative, supplying the masses often with an image of a tragically beautiful Kashmir Valley in violation by the enemy, while India is a saviour filled with good people and their great intentions. The narrative is of a damsel in distress.

As citizens of a time where the political scenario is largely based on turmoil and maligning the ‘other’, we take in the popular narratives and romanticise the tragedy further in our imagination. From the kind of literature we, as non-Kashmiris, read from and about the Valley, to the kind of films that are released about it, the utter grit of the conflict is almost always negated. Poetry and art are the media for numerous children of war to accept conflict as a part of their identity, and the richness of their verses and portrayals is often our entire worldview of a region in war with itself, and with the occupiers. The authority with which we then perpetrate the nuances of the issue on social media, and in our circles, reeks of a diaspora authority- distant, different, and sometimes indifferent to reality.

The Washington Post referred to 2018 as “the deadliest year in a decade in Kashmir” with over 400 reported deaths. In November 2018, a 20-month-old baby became the youngest victim of stone-pelting and lost her eyesight. Kashmir Valley is a region where violent conflicts can be listed by months. The grit of the violence is not a sonnet of beautiful sadness, but it is as real as a time-bomb that keeps ticking and killing at once. Samah Jabr, chair of the mental health unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and many experts state that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a western concept as American soldiers return to normalcy after war, but the war never ends for those who are born in and then die in conflict-zones. For them, she explains, the fear of bombardment is not imaginary but justified; there’s no ‘post-trauma’.

We need to stop beautifying the horror in our imagination, and our expression, by becoming more than a distant onlooker. Films like Inshallah Football, No Fathers in Kashmir et al receive adult certification from CBFC, because of the authenticity of their conflict-portrayal. The least we can do as privileged citizens is seeking news, criticising cinema, and analysing our own understanding of the conflict in all its violent, political, traumatising manifestations, instead of remembering it merely as the land where pain breeds beauty for the outsider’s pleasure.

Feature Image Credits: NewsGram

Anushree Joshi

[email protected]

While the TV news in India frequently fails in providing relevant information to the citizens and rather becomes an arena for incessant shouting, it also operates in subtler ways. The mere language of headlines, hashtags and names of shows should raise eyebrows.

American linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, theorised the ‘propaganda model’ of the mass media in his book Manufacturing Consent, wherein he talked about five filters of the media: ownership, advertising, sources, flak, and creation of a common enemy. In a nutshell, media institutions are part of big conglomerates who sell their products to advertisers, and whose sources of information are also the elites; those who oppose these elite interests face flak from the system, while a common ideological enemy is created to spread propaganda.

Yet, it doesn’t take a renowned philosopher to observe elements of this model operating on a daily basis; most Indian news shows seem to be following it to near perfection in some or the other way.

Those dramatic headlines coupled with theatrical music and imagery need to only be slightly observed to understand the suggestive undertones of the programmes. Not only biases, but provocation can also be seen. Sentimental and emotive elements are consciously used to shape narratives and capture viewers. News edges closer to the genre of entertainment. Apart from the more conspicuous displays of these elements as seen in the debates and the role of star-anchors, much subtler mechanisms also seem to be at play – headlines, hashtags, and even the names of the shows are culpable.

The most visible examples of this can be seen during critical situations. Since Thursday, following the Pulwama attack, news channels focused almost exclusively on the incident – and rightly so. Yet, the gravity of the situation was used by the channels to draw in audiences with their theatrics. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with drawing audiences, because that’s what news channels literally run on, but the problem arises when the techniques used for this purpose pose harms.

For instance, consider the headlines during the 9 P.M. Broadcast of Aaj Tak on Thursday – “Ye hamla nahi, jang ka ailaan hai” (It’s not an attack, it’s a proclamation of war), “Surgical strike nahi, seedha prahaar hi raasta?” (Not surgical strike, but a direct attack is the solution?). During situations like these, when emotions of the public run high and a sense of frustration surrounds the masses, the responsibility of providing a calm and measured coverage of the news lies with the media to an even greater extent, especially on widely-watched channels like Aaj Tak. Of course, a sense of anger was present in the public. But by using provocative headlines – those that hint towards a call for war – these news shows not only fuel the fire but also send out a wrong message. Similar headlines were seen in Friday’s ‘DNA’ show on Zee News.

News shows often use problematic headlines and tickers.
News shows often use problematic headlines and tickers. Image Credits: YouTube

Be it ex-servicemen, defence experts, or even many common people, there exists a recognition that war isn’t a joke. Yet it makes for good TV, doesn’t it? The severity of a war, the appeal for revenge, the impending danger – all of it draws the audience. Instead of responsibly analysing the situation and, in fact, making an appeal to the viewers to maintain calm and let the concerned authorities take the necessary steps, such programming tries to capitalise on the emotion to attract audiences by stoking the fire. Drawing in viewers also means pulling in more advertisers. That’s just one example of how the filters operate. Yet, these instances aren’t limited to the coverage of emergency situations.

In fact, the mere usage of hashtags in everyday programming points to a bigger picture. Hashtags trend on Twitter, giving news channels an idea of what type of news pieces would sell. Further, this would allow them to focus more strongly on populist topics, which can potentially sideline some crucial but less market-friendly issues. The style and substance of the news shows is also reflected in the popularity of these hashtags; if a particular style of news attracts more tweets, channels will have greater incentive to keep going with that style.

Furthermore, the language of hashtags is also important. A simple YouTube search entry of “Republic TV debate” presents a multitude of clips of Arnab Goswami’s primetime debate show. Every video thumbnail has a hashtag in it. ‘#RahulFakeNews’, ‘#RepublicBharatVsAMU’, ‘#CongAttacksHindus’, ‘#RahulLieCaught’, ‘#UnstableAlliance’, ‘#ModiVsWho’ – these are just some of the many hashtags that invite questions. The hashtags aren’t only reflective of a singular narrative but also give an idea on the type of tweets they’ll invite. Obviously, it won’t be in the show’s interest to display tweets that go against the narrative it wants to portray. Thus, very selective tweets are displayed, giving an impression to the viewers that what they’re watching is correct and supported by the public opinion as well.

The use of hashtags in debate shows also invites questions. Image Credits: YouTube
The use of hashtags in debate shows also invites questions. Image Credits: YouTube

Sensational issues are picked by many channels. CNN-News18’s weekly 10 P.M. show- ‘The Right Stand’ regularly focuses almost exclusively on issues having a religious angle.

Even the names of these shows should be inspected. Halla Bol, Takkar, and Dangal are also, in fact, names of action movies, almost as if the shows are meant to be a platform for speakers to brawl over issues; ‘Bhai vs Bhai’ and ‘The Great Debate Show’ seem to have an entertainment element inherently attached to them; ‘Arnab Goswami on the Debate @ 9’ puts more emphasis on the anchor than the news.

Obviously, it’s not possible to deconstruct and analyse every debate in a single piece and even these examples are selective. There are innumerable debates that may be deconstructed and analysed, but the aforementioned selective examples are reflective of a larger trend. A look at the substance of these debates glaringly points towards the problems in the media. But the point is- even inconspicuous elements like hashtags and headlines are at play. So, what does the language of news shows tell us? Bias, sensationalism, and irresponsibility, for a start.

Yet, it doesn’t mean that all’s bad. Even these shows sometimes pick real issues and do a good job covering and analysing them. Like the Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express, Raj Kamal Jha said, “Good journalism is, in fact, growing; it’s just that bad journalism makes a lot more noise.”

Feature Image Credits: Newslaundry


Prateek Pankaj

[email protected]

Comprising of Mrs, Anjana Om Kashyap, Mr. Vikram Chandra, and Mr. Saurabh Dwivedi, the panel discussing ‘Lok Sabha Elections: Mahakumbh of Indian Journalism’ was subjected to some pressing and thought-provoking questions at the Q&A session at St. Stephen’s College on 23rd January.

Moderated by Dr. Amna Mirza, Associate Professor at the University of Delhi (DU), the panel first invited Mrs. Anjana Om Kashyap, Executive Editor at Aaj Tak, to speak about television rating points (TRPs) and political bias in journalism, among other issues. After Mrs. Kashyap’s presentation, Mr. Vikram Chandra-Founder, Editorji Technologies, and Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NDTV– shared his insight on the changing face of journalism and transmission of news, while emphasising a solution through his news app Editorji. Mr. Saurabh Dwivedi, Founding Editor of The Lallantop, was subsequently started on a rather humorous note, and then delved into rural issues which have often been overlooked by mainstream media.

In the Q&A session, students from various colleges raised a plethora of socially and politically charged questions for the panellists. On being questioned by Honey, a Kirori Mal College student, about the intervention and regulation of news broadcasted by mass media channels like Aaj Tak by their top advertisement-providers that were companies like Patanjali, Mrs. Kashyap stated, “Aapka sawaal mujhe out kar gaya (Your question has stumped me).” She maintained that news channels had to work the best from within the system. “News is what someone wants to suppress; rest is all advertisement,” she said. Mr. Chandra and Mr. Dwivedi further added that no advertiser directly called shots on the content of reputed news channels.

The second part of Honey’s question dealt with representation in the newsrooms. To this, Mr. Dwivedi responded by highlighting the lack of representation of journalists, especially from areas like Manipur and Kashmir. In the same breath, he added that journalists tended to overlook caste and socio-economic backgrounds during recruitment, which might be the reason for such disparities in number.

“Kaunsa mudda, kiska mudda, woh koi nahi poochta (Which issue it is, whose issue it is- nobody asks that),”said Shorya, a student from the PWD category, emphasising how national issues do not matter much to common people, for ground-level issues like the absence of ramps in colleges for PWD students are not even covered by mainstream media. His concerns evoked a massive emotional response not only among the panellists but the audience as well. While no one from the panel was able to offer a concrete solution, they all agreed to his concerns, offering to help him run a Twitter campaign for the same.

The next question raised to baffle the panellists was about Kashmir. A student asked the panel about why the stories based on Kashmir began with a metaphorical full-stop. In response to the one-line question, Mrs. Kashyap responded with a one-line answer-“…because Kashmir is an ongoing story”. However, all the panellists agreed, without saying much that the sentiments in Kashmir were often different from the versions presented on TV. Mr. Chandra went on to state that certain sections of media should be ashamed of how they had covered Kashmir.

Another student enquired how anonymity could be a useful tool especially in the present-day society where one was easily labelled as an ‘anti-national’ for speaking up against the government. Mr. Chandra responded by saying that the day one feared to speak in a free country, it would not be free at all. Mrs. Kashyap then encouraged the student to not hide behind anonymity and to stand up for her views.

A student from Ramjas College requested Mrs. Kashyap to comment on the alleged misrepresentation of information reported by an Aaj Tak anchor regarding an ABVP rally during Republic Day last year, asking whether the channel should be held responsible for the same. She responded by saying that due action had been taken against the anchor and that Aaj Tak had employed an exclusive fact-checking team to avoid such incidents in the future.

Evidently dissatisfied, the student further followed up by commenting that the anchor in question had also allegedly misreported about a chip being present in the INR2,000 notes post-demonetisation. At this stage, Mrs Kashyap refused to answer, saying that she couldn’t comment on someone else’s behalf. On the other hand, Mr. Dwivedi said that mistakes often happen, and he himself had misrepresented information at times but believed that journalists should own up to such mistakes.

Despite being difficulty they may present in resolution, the need for asking tough questions was recognised and appreciated by all present at the event. As the guests departed, the students applauded and cheered with their ideas regarding journalism-its challenges, economics, and politics- appearing to be stronger.

Feature Image Credits: Leadership Cell, St. Stephen’s College.

Prateek Pankaj
[email protected]

Sakshi Arora
[email protected]

In an increasingly globalised world where information is accessible at our fingertips, what role does ethical and responsible journalism play in ensuring the dissemination of facts?

The advent of fake news is one that is unfortunate yet undeniable. It has its own distinct definition, one that differs from satire and practical humour. This relatively new phenomenon can be described as the spread of deliberate misinformation with the intention of misleading consumers. The act may be driven by a desire to garner political or financial gains, or may simply be a result of government propaganda and/or censorship. A defining characteristic of fake news are sensational headlines, also known as “clickbait” headlines to garner more click-based revenue in the online world.

The concept of false reporting came into the global limelight during the 2016 presidential election held in the United States of America (USA), through Donald Trump branding everything he disagreed with as “fake news”. There were numerous instances of reputable personalities and sources quoting morphed information during the election. Closer to home, in November 2017, the University of Delhi’s Kawalpreet Kaur posed in front of the Jama Masjid with a poster, stating her stance against mob lynching. The photo went viral, but the one that the Pakistan Defence Forum chose to tweet to more than 300,000 followers was an edited version, which read that Kaur hated India because of its colonial tendencies.

The problem with fake news in the contemporary world is that its distribution is not restricted to its producers; ordinary citizens with social media accounts can just as easily contribute to the mass propagation of false information. As a Wired article titled ‘It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech’ states, “In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralised broadcasting infrastructure. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention.”

In this context, it is more imperative that media houses and journalists in positions of responsibility make an active effort to recheck the veracity of their information and stay true to the ethics of reporting. 2nd April 2018 was celebrated as the second annual International Fact-Checking Day, an occasion that seems almost ridiculous on the surface, but is essential in the era of fake news.

Ordinary citizens may not always recognise the dire need for fact-checking before they indulge in sharing fake news on social media. However, this is a luxury that journalists cannot afford. Our national ruling party recently ordered that journalists would lose access to government events if they are accused of fake news. The order has since been revoked, but the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has set up a committee to provide a regulatory framework for online media in the country. Despite the government’s own agenda and threats to the media, journalists owe it to their audience to be principled. Whether it is national print newspapers or student-run campus publications, the ethics remain the same. Before succumbing to over sensationalised headlines and political bullies, we must evaluate our foremost responsibility: to deliver facts.


Vineeta Rana
[email protected]