Journalist Ravish Kumar of NDTV, who is not only widely respected but enjoys an almost cult status, has written this article about the role played by ZEE News and ANI in the Akshay Kumar-Modi starrer "non-political interview” that went much beyond the chit chat about whether the prime minister likes mangoes or not. The interview, hailed by many as a PR master stroke, tried to temper the persona of a Modi flinging around careless references to India’s nuclear bomb by presenting the cuddly teddy bear persona inside the tough-talker airstrike warrior.
Is Akshay Kumar’s interview of Prime Minister Modi not paid news?
If you are familiar with the evolution of media, then you should sit up and take notice. If you are a die-hard supporter of the prime minister, then you should be even more aware and alert.
BY RAVISH KUMAR
AKSHAY KUMAR INTERVIEWD Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but who provided the camera for this interview? Who extended the required technical backup? Did you see any credit roll of the production company at the end of the interview? No one is raising these questions. It is clear that if these questions are raised in the public domain, then it will raise issues of accountability. The fact is that in the name of a non-political approach, massive politics has been played with the faith of the viewers.
The Quint website, quoting its sources, has claimed that it was the Zee News’ editorial team that was responsible for doing the prepping up work for the Akshay-Modi interview. It was video-graphed by the Zee News team and the post-production work, including editing, was done by the Zee News personnel.
When it was ready, news agency ANI put it out and all the television channels aired it. The Quint story does not have the version of the Zee News or the ANI.
This is unambiguously political propaganda. Content prepared by Zee News was released through the ANI and it was telecast by all channels. Should all these channels not have been informed as to how the content was created? Was it the ANI’s content that was being put in the public domain?
If you know how the media has been evolving in India, then this should make you sit up and take note. If you are a die-hard fan of the prime minister, then it is all the more important that you wake up to this fact. Do you support Modi so that the media can fool you? You support, that’s understandable. Why is the media playing these games?
There is a well-endowed team of Doordarshan in our country. Why did they not shoot or edit the interview? Does the prime minister not trust government institutions? Incidentally, as a professional, I’d like to state it that Akshay Kumar’s version of Bal Narendra video was very poorly shot. The prime minister was made to sit in such a fashion that you could even see the reflections of the technical staff in the glass pane behind him. During the course of this programme, one or the other person’s head or hand kept popping up on the screen. I’m sure the Doordarshan’s cameramen would have done a much better job.
But no one is raising these questions. The opposition simply does not have the moral strength for it. It has been found to be a bunch of cowards and absent from their job. (कोई पूछने वाला नहीं है. विपक्ष में नैतिक बल नहीं है. डरपोक और कामचोर विपक्ष है. इस इंटरव्यू से संबंधित मूल सवाल उठने चाहिए थे.) They should have raised fundamental questions in the context of this interview.
Disclaimer — Punjab Today brings you this English translation of Ravish Kumar’s piece that originally appeared in Hindi on the NDTV’s website. The original piece carried a disclaimer to the effect that the article contained the personal views of the author Ravish Kumar and that the NDTV was in no way responsible for the vailidity of any of its contents. We must hereby add that this translation has been done by Team Punjab Today solely at its own initiative and neither the author nor NDTV is responsible for any deviation from the original. We believe that the readers of Punjab Today stand to gain in translation. Readers have nothing to lose but their prejudices. – Ed.
Did the Zee News team really shoot this interview and also did the editing job? If so, it was a programme of the Zee News. Then why was this not made clear. Were all the channels kept in dark and forced to air Zee News’ programme? Will Zee News supply content to all television news channels in future also?
Does this interview not fall in the ambit of paid news? Zee News has a smorgasbord of businesses. Why will it create content for all channels pro bono? Will it get the rewards after the election?
If Akshay Kumar had brought his own team then that was understandable. The Quint website has a picture of the team of Zee News. The programme was planned in cahoots with a private television channel and a news agency was used to release it to all channels. In my view, this is a crime. This is an immoral act, falls short of any ethical standard. (नैतिक अपराध है.)
The prime minister of India should now inform the nation who did this interview. Zee News or ANI? Did all the channels ask ANI as to who had shot this interview? Will Zee News now do propaganda shoots, edit these and distribute such content to other channels, and those channels will air it? Are those working with these channels really such simpleton folks that they do not understand any of this?
The Election Commission is not working as an independent and fearless moderator. To have any hope of this institution is now pointless, otherwise this is a clear case of paid news. The Press Council of India and the forum of editors are all silent. At best, they merely decry such practices. There is this News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) and you can choose to complain to them, but nothing will come out of that, too.
The ANI is a major Indian news agency and has collaboration pact with Thompson Reuters. Sometime back, some Army veterans who had retired from a number of different branches in the armed forces, wrote to Reuters. They informed it how their Indian associate ANI tried to run them down and make suspect their intentions when all they did was to raise their voice against politicisation of the Indian Army. These veterans wrote that they believe that the ANI has tried to misrepresent their view at the instance of India’s ruling party. The ANI has termed this claim baseless.
On April 12, more than 150 army officers wrote a missive to the President of India, wherein they had pointed out to this politicisation of the Indian Army. That day, the ANI had claimed that two of the signatories, former Army chief General (retd) SF Rodrigues and former Chief of Air Staff NC Suri had refuted that they had signed the representation, and that they have claimed that they had not given their consent in any way, shape or form. This news was published all around and was telecast widely.
Thompson was asked how it will carry out any assessment of the editorial ethical standards of its Indian associate. You can read about it in detail on Scroll.
You should not disregard the goings-on in the media merely because you are a BJP supporter or opponent. The media is not only helping Modi win this election but is also ensuring your defeat after the electoral exercise is over. Make that distinction between the role of the media and your own political support. What is being ruined right before your eyes, have one last look at that idyllic place, my friends. It is not such a difficult question that you cannot ask it. Your innate fear in raising this question is the final defeat of the people of India.
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