Media losing its credibility: Delhi Union of Journalists

October 3rd, 2008 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) Taking a hard look at media reports on the Jamia Nagar episode over the past few weeks, after two suspected terrorists and a Delhi Police Inspector were killed in a police shootout Sep 19, the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) prepared an interim report which was released in the capital Friday.Pointing out discrepancies in various media over reporting of facts, S.K.Pande, president of DUJ said that in what can be seen as a growing trend - albeit a dangerous one, verification of facts is quite often overlooked by reporters these days.

“To state an example, the Times of India said that there were 25 firing rounds by the police and eight by the ‘terrorists’. The Indian Express, the Hindu, Dainik Hindustan, Punjab Kesari and Rashtriya Sahara say that the police fired 22 rounds. They were all silent about the rounds fired by the suspects,” Pande said.

“Whether it’s the time of the shootout, the duration, the number of policemen present at that time or the number of bullets that hit Police Inspector M.C. Sharma - different media have different versions. At least in the initial reportage, the source of the information was the same, the police. Then why the difference? ” he asked.

Agreeing with Pande, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar said that because of instances such as these the ‘media is losing its credibility’.

The interim report, which will be followed by a more detailed one later, was a result of intense discussion among 15 members of the DUJ and its Ethics Council, scanning of the various media - both print and electronic, and visits to the Jamia Nagar area by three members who spoke to the residents of the area.

“The purpose of this report is not to pass a judgement on the shootout, whether it was a fake one or not. The aim was to analyse the role of the media in handling such serious issues. In the age of fast news and 24/7 news channels, unfortunately we sometimes resort to hyping of news,” Pande said.

The report said: ‘The Hindustan Times, for instance, Sep 20 ran a story ‘India’s Bin Laden was a good boy in school’ on alleged terrorist Abdus Subhan Qureshi. The story did not warrant that headline’.

‘By and large, the press has forsaken the use of such prefixes like alleged and suspected in front of names of those who have been arrested and killed. Television reports have been even more blatant with such words simply missing from the language used by reporters and anchors’.

The report also had words of praise for certain media like the Veer Arjun which on Sep 20 gave a detailed description of the operation that is at variance with the versions in the other papers.

DUJ now plans to send the report to the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), among others.

“There were four-five children, all between the age of 10-17 who were picked up for questioning by the Police. One of the boys killed in the shoot out was 17 and branded as a terrorist in most papers even before any proof could be established against them. Are the NCPCR looking into the matter? We are going to send this report to the NCPCR and see what their reaction is,” Pande said.

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