Rajdeep Sardesai, Shashi Tharoor, and others move SC following FIRs on “seditious” tweets; should senior journalists not check their facts before reporting incidents?

The violence on Republic day on account of the protesting farmers held the nation captive with anxiety as they watched the rioting unfold in parts of Delhi.

Even as the Delhi Police attempted to control the outbreak of violence from certain groups of the protesting farmers, the entire episode was not without “opinions” and “statements” from both within the political circles, media, and the general public.

Following the episode, Arpit Mishra, a 35-year-old resident of Noida, accused eight people, including six journalists, of broadcasting offensive, misleading and provocative news that said that the Delhi Police had killed a protester driving a tractor.

This particular piece of news of a farmer dying at Delhi Police’s hands had the potential to erupt as a major flashpoint between the protesting farmers and the Delhi police.

Lately, it has been observed that there have been increasingly inaccurate reports, facts, and pieces of information reported from several sections of the media.

There is a growing trend amongst competing media houses and channels that either under-report or over-report a particular issue.

Irrespective of a particular event’s grimness, the headlines, coverage, or debate on such matters depend on the channel’s weightage given internally.

Most of the time, if another media channel is reporting or taking an interest in a particular story, the competing media channels prefer to skim on the subject and pick up another piece of a headline, or in many cases, take an opposing viewpoint.

It seems that the competition and the internal workings of these media houses have gained precedent over the complexities, the grimness, accurate reporting, and the time that the channel will devote to such issues if another channel has already picked it up.

Also, many of the so-called reporters report facts that are not true or yet have to be investigated or verified, yet they go on to conclude and present the concluded view or opinion to the country at large.

The case of the alleged tweets on the false death of a farmer involves the Congress MP Sashi Tharoor, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pandey (Group editor of National Herald), Zafar Agha (Chief Editor of Quami Awaz) & Prashant Nath, Anant Nath & Vinod K Jose (Editors of the caravan magazine).

They have been said to have allegedly misreported, provoked, and spread communal disharmony during the clashes between the police and the protesting farmers on Republic day.

This as Rajdeep Sardesai, the consulting editor with India Today Group, had tweeted that a farmer Navneet Singh was allegedly killed by the Delhi police in police firing during the tractor rally.

However, according to the police, the farmer had reportedly died due to his tractor overturning during the protest.

What Does the FIR say?
The FIR registered by the Noida Police against the eight mentioned above has been registered under the various sections of the Indian penal code (IPC), mentions charges of sedition, promoting enmity between different groups, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, incite violence and criminal conspiracy.

The FIR also mentions that the said accused acted in a prejudiced manner, which jeopardized national security and public safety.

The FIRs against the eight have been filed in five states; cases have been registered in Gurgaon, Bengaluru, and Noida on Thursday.

Meanwhile, four similar cases have also been filed in different districts of Madya Pradesh earlier.

The move to the Supreme Court of India

Following the FIRs registered against the eight, they have now approached the Supreme Court over the multiple FIRs filed against them regarding the “misleading tweets.”

Why is the media so hasty in reporting?

The media is considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy in our country. In India, we have come a long way from a single source of news – the Door Darshan news era to multiple channels and media houses.

While it is bound to involve and give rise to competitiveness, which is a good aspect and is a natural phenomenon, lately, however, in order to achieve as much TRP as possible, the media is also not short of “sensationalizing” and “false reporting.”

As if it is not enough for the media channels to engage in outright war in the name of competition, individuals at the helm of these channels engage in private fights, arguments, and plain disdain for each other for all of the country to see.

Any journalist and media channel’s fundamental responsibility is to present facts that are devoid of any personal sentiments and opinions.

It is the duty of the reporters and the media channels to report facts that have been cross-checked from credible sources before it finds its way into the reporting.

An opinion and a viewpoint can be expressed on a particular issue or a matter but only during specific programs that outline “opinion” based topics and should not seep into the normal course of news reporting.

For a senior reporter as Rajdeep Sardesai and others who are from the reporters’ fraternity who run specific shows on their respective channels, it is an utter shame that they report an incident that has no credibility but has the potential to create An “uproar” and further “complicate” the issue.

The farmers’ protest is of significant concern, and while the government has been holding talks with the protesting farmers, the issue has the potential to “scale up,” because of “false reporting” thus hampering and limiting the possibility of a peaceful and mutual resolution.

While the internet services were cut in various parts of Delhi on Republic Day so as not to propagate and spread fake news, here we have seasoned journalists and a prominent member of the parliament who have done just that.

Where is the responsibility? What about the oath taken to be a true journalist and to report correct and verified facts?

In their haste to garner publicity or to strike an impression, these senior journalists’ tweets lack and show the public that they are not a credible and not an accurate source for information.

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