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Monday, October 06, 2008

IBN7 Hindi News Channel: Journalism or preaching prejudices!

It is no longer a joke if you say that 24 hr TV channel is a monster. Firstly, it has to telecast something round the clock and then also ensure that the TRPs don't fall. But one does expect some basic ethics of journalism to be followed even in the process of grabbing eyeballs.

Ironically, IBN7, a Hindi News channel, seems to have lost all sense of propriety even though it is headed by a senior journalist Ashutosh, who has a credibility.


I am forced to write, as for weeks I have been witnessing how the 'opinionated reporters and anchors' of this channel are trying to poison the minds of people and fan communal hatred.

On Monday, I was shocked to hear the views of the anchor Sandeep Chaudhary in the discussion programme 'Mudda'. Though a seasoned journalist, he appeared convinced when he thundered that why 'liberal Indian Muslims don't speak up against terrorism'.

Doesn't he know that we do hold innumerable protests but not one does his channel show. When Chhamman Miyan holds protest, it is not mentioned. We don't own newspapers and channels and so blogs and sites are our sole media to express our anguish.

After every act of terrorism, on umpteen blogs, Muslims condemn it. Dozens of times I have written on my blog and every other guy is doing it. Can't you see it. When lakhs of Muslims sent curse to terrorists in an extraordinary event, you don't report it.

What do we do? Chaudhary Sahab, besides the fact that you are not aware and don't bother to read, you are doing great injustice by spreading canards and repeating the allegations of right-wing groups. Your attitude during the whole debate clearly showed that you are not at all receptive, not ready to listen and asked questions that were bordering on hatespeak: that's unfair journalism.

You have a power, so you should act responsibly. Delhi alone has half-a-dozen Urdu papers and I wonder you ever get a copy at your office. You can have a translator and get the reports translated to know, how much Muslims are anguished by the terrorism, as we find it most difficult to get a house or job after such events.

The irony is that a same set of panelists appear on these shows. It's not for diverse views but for 'heated exchanges' so that the TRPs soar. Whenever the anchor is uncomfortable, he will force the guy to stop and ask another person to reply or simply fire a fresh question, jump to another topic or say, 'let's meet after break'. He has no accountability.

You can see the show at the website of IBN 7 at IBN Khabar.

It is strange to see how the anchors are speaking the language of BJP and VHP. 'Vote bank politics'. Isn't every politics about votes? Doesn't BJP do it, when it aims to fan communal feelings, as it wants polarisation and in turn aims at 'Hindu vote bank'?

Then there was the same issue of madarsas (though now it seems techies are involved). Yaa, for godsake understand that if one madarsa guy is involved you can't simply demonize the lakhs of madarsas in India, just because you have borrowed the terminology of United States. The topic of the debate in the programme Mudda was 'Aatankvad and Musalman'. Again linking Islam directly to terror.

Even in coutries of Europe where Muslims haven't been living for over a century, there is much sensitivity. Bhai, sab ko gaali doge to kyaa faida hoga. I am writing on blog, the guy who doesn't have a blog and is equally anguished will stop watching TV, get more cynical as his letter to paper may not be published and lose faith in media.

If you are doing an analysis, you can still write that. But when you say it news that 'No stricter laws because of vote bank politics', you simply put the blame on entire Indian Muslim community, as if they are soft on terror.

And this was what IBN 7's Shirish Srivastava was emphatically doing just ten days back. I have got nothing against you or your channel. But the fact that millions watch your channel and such prejudiced views lead to increased communalism and hatred in society.

People trust media and when mediamen air such prejudiced views, it hurts the nation. Yes, Muslims are doing inward looking and are condemning terror and also ready to fight it, but don't judge the 150 million Indian Muslim community on the basis of the actions of a few or pronounce a verdict.

It is unfortunate that a news channel needs this lecture. In times of turbulence we ought to be more careful but it seems you are getting swayed away faster than the common man.

Though I am nobody. I can ask much tough questions but I don't. You guys should also do an inward looking and introspection that what service you are doing to nation by airing such views that only end up hurting a community by your stereotypes and biased charges.

Where has objectivity got lost? Even Ashutosh's post on this subject on his blog on IBN7 website isn't mature enough. He also airs the same views and praised his anchor, who only airs one-sided views.[Jamia Milia Islamia professor Aalam Anwar has meanwhile written a reply to Ashutosh's blog post, which has been published on CNN-IBN (English) channel's website.]

Thank God, the channel doesn't reach entire rural India else they could have ran riots by the reporting. When such programmes get repeated, and are shown all the time with similar biased views, even the most unbiased ordinary person will get affected.

Maun ham nahi saadh rahe. Aap pura sach nahi bol rahe.

Post script:
News channels like Aajtak, Star News and others are again playing up the 'votebank' issue over statements of politicians demanding judicial inquiry.

No one is belittling the death of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, but the fact remains that these TV channels are so upset that a martyr [shaheed] is being dragged in controversy after death, but have no concern that by this repetition of votebank theory they are defaming 150 million Indian Muslims each and every day, round the clock.

Ever thought of it? If you don't like a politician's statement, castigate him but don't brand Muslims again, and give the impression that they are soft on terror.