Spine-chilling confessions of a TV reporter | UnBreak the News with Prema Sridevi | Ep:93
The Supreme Court recently stated that TV channels were using hate to increase TRPs. The apex court asked the government why it was a mute spectator and said that it was the duty of a TV anchor to prevent hate speech from being aired. The standard of journalism in India, especially on TV channels, has been sinking to new lows every day. A recent incident in India has caused outrage among journalists where a former journalist from a Hindi news channel said he is ashamed to call himself a journalist. He asks – How long can we kill our inner soul just to feed ourselves? What is he alleging about his news organisation? And why is his story important? And as the Supreme Court has rightly asked, why is the government a mute spectator? Prema Sridevi UnBreaks this News for you!
(Produced below are the transcripts of the video explainer from Episode: 93 | UnBreak the News with Prema Sridevi | Title: Spine-chilling confessions of a TV reporter)
The Supreme Court recently stated that TV channels were using hate and “all such spicy things” to increase TRPs. The apex court asked the government why it was a mute spectator and said it was the duty of a TV anchor to prevent hate speech from being aired. The standard of journalism in India, especially on TV channels, has been sinking to new lows every day.
A recent incident in India has caused outrage among journalists where a former journalist from a Hindi news channel said he is ashamed to call himself a journalist. He asks – How long can we kill our inner soul just to feed ourselves?
What is he alleging about his news organisation? And why is his story important? And as the Supreme Court has rightly asked, why is the government a mute spectator? Prema Sridevi UnBreaks this News for you!
A few days back, Anil Yadav, who used to work as a journalist with News Nation – a Hindi news channel in India – made a startling confession. “For nearly five years, we have been seeing a scary situation. I feel ashamed to say I am a journalist. I feel ashamed to call myself a reporter. We are just servants. We are just working for the news channel. But now I feel enough is enough. I can’t do this anymore. How long can we kill our conscience to fill our stomach? I feel I should save my conscience before it completely dies. If the conscience dies, I will also die. I will be finished,” said Anil.
Anil has alleged that he received standing instructions from his organisation to not report against the ruling government or its top leadership, to vilify the opposition and to deliberately showcase members of the Muslim community in a bad light.
“The matter is that News Nation has given clear instructions that reporters cannot speak against the government. They cannot speak against Modi, Yogi or other BJP leaders. We have been told that if you feel like speaking against anyone or their policies, or if you feel the need to talk about the truth, then you have people like Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav – you can vilify them. They force us to do Hindu-Muslims stories. They (channel) don’t even utter the word Muslims. They say ‘Mullon’. They ask us to get stories on ‘Mullons’. They tell us – go get that controversial Muslim man. Find out what Muslims are saying. What is happening in Madrasas?” confessed Anil.
Are Anil’s confessions merely allegations? Is he trying to throw muck at an organisation he was planning to quit? Why should Anil’s allegations be taken seriously? In a video report that he did for his channel, Anil can be seen barging into a Madrasa and hounding young children. Here are audio transcripts from Anil’s video reportage done for News Nation this September:
Anil: I will show you how classes are conducted in Madrasas. It seems there is no teacher here. Where is the teacher?
School attendant: The teacher is on the ground floor.
Anil: Students are roaming around here and are acting like rogues.
School attendant: No, they won’t. Teacher will come now.
Anil: Which class is this?
School attendant: Class Second.
Anil: These small kids are class second students?
School attendant: Yes. Class second.
Anil: What is your name?
Student: Abdul Azeem.
Anil: Which class are you in?
Reporter: Class two? But you are very young. It looks like you are in Nursery or LKG. How did you reach class 2?
Student: By studying…
After this conversation, Anil is seen questioning students and asking them uncomfortable questions. The intention was clear. As Anil says in an interview given later, “it was to show them in a bad light”.
Following Anil’s confessions, some journalists have said on social media that Anil has spoken not just for himself but for the entire community of journalists, camerapersons, production engineers, news coordinators and anchors who continue to work in many TV news channels in India despite odd situations. In some Indian news channels, journalists are told there is nothing known as truth. There are two forms of truth. Your truth and my truth, and both these concepts, can be twisted as per the organisation’s convenience. Young reporters are told in a fight between truth and TRPs, truth is always the loser.
Anil’s confessions expose the larger malaise plaguing the Indian TV news media industry. Many journalists have left the profession to stay away from the constant pressures to toe unethical editorial lines, and some others who decided to quit television as a profession have moved onto digital news or become independent journalists.
The hate speech ecosystem in television channels is not regulated in India. Some say the media can get away with murder if it wants because no one reports the dirty exploits of the press. Indian television channel debates are infamous for their notoriety, and they are known as echo chambers. But the walls of these echo chambers of hate and propaganda will come crumbling down only when more people switch off these channels and switch over to independent news organisations they trust.
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