Responsible Citizen or Responsible Media?

My worst fears came true today with the arrest of ‘sting operation’ journalist in Uma Khurana case.

Two days ago, while traveling to work, Shikha, my friend, colleague, and travel partner 🙂, told me the news about Uma Khurana. The story is pretty simple yet sad reality.

An unknown news channel runs a so-called “sting” operation “uncovering” a government school teacher who was forcing school girls into prostitution by blackmailing them. An unidentified girl posed as a “victim.” After a hue and cry, Uma Khurana was arrested and man-handled by the mob. It was chief minister Sheila Dixit who announced that Uma Khurana has been suspended from her job at school.

Uma Khurana Man-handled

What is the cost of her individual dignity?

When Shikha told me about the school teacher Uma being beaten by angry students, my first fearsome doubt was: Is she really the accused? Was it right to manhandle her without giving her a chance to defend herself? Even if Uma Khurana is a “pimp” as the news story called her, what gave the mob a right to manhandle a woman who hadn’t yet been proven guilty by law? I doubted the authenticity of an unknown channel. But obviously, rest of the city didn’t. Also, it seems it is easier to take out your frustration in a mob, because mob has no face.

Two days after the story ran, police became confused as none of the parents came up to lodge a story. It turns out the “victim” in the sting operation was not a school girl at all! She was instead an aspiring journalist who gladly posed as schoolgirl-turned-prostitute on camera. (It is an different issue altogether how difficult it is to find jobs at entry level in this country.) Police is now questioning the journalist who ran that story. Today the journalist was arrested. A shame! A disgrace!

Ah, before you make the same mistake of jumping the gun and rendering the journalist guilty, take a while to think who should be ashamed in this entire episode.

Shame on the citizens of the country who do not think twice to kill in rage (do not forget the recent Bhagalpur incident or other road rage killings that happen everyday on roads of India), who do not give a hoot about law and order in the country. Shame on the news channels who mock sacred principles of journalism to garner cheap publicity or TRPs.

I condemn such news channels who run false stories, they do not appreciate the freedom fourth estate enjoys in our country. If our present Information and Broadcasting minister P. R. Dasmunshi would have his way, he would impose a news content code to regulate what news could be shown on TV and when! They also plan to lay down rules for sting operation. Such regulations threaten the freedom of Indian media. But do we value this freedom?

When will the Indian media value the power they hold on masses and resolve to use their freedom responsibly? As they say in Spiderman movies, “With great power, comes greater responsibility.” Media, along with its sting operations is useful weapon against social and political evils, but one that needs to be utilized judiciously.

The onus of being responible citizen lies on us. As for media, we need to keep making our collective voices heard.

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20 Responses to “Responsible Citizen or Responsible Media?”


  1. 1 ish September 8, 2007 at 7:22 am

    They’re overdoing all the string operations things to earn themselves money and audience.

    I don’t really know the detail of this case but I do know the gist. I actually watched Live India today and I was shocked to see that it was going as always, no sign of anything.

    And I’ve already said this, we are a frustrated lot who after being yelled at by the people at home take our frustrations out on others. Beating the hell out of others does help actually, but it doesn’t help the one who gets beaten. I had a different way of letting my anger out. I would play a game called Unreal in which you can kill your opponents and smash them into pieces using rocket launchers and all. Video games can be useful sometimes, you see.

  2. 2 shuz September 8, 2007 at 7:23 am

    i guess this is not the first time that we react to ppl and situations even b4 the accused has been proven… it gets really nasty at times… i agree, it is not accepted. our actions shud have a real cause n in such cases it shud be proven… parents beating up teachers n so on…

    we have a system that looks into it… and let them take care of it…

  3. 4 Poonam Sharma September 8, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    @Ish: I like the ideas of taking your frustration out in video games. There were several web sites where you could go and punch a person naming him/her anybody you wanted. I know several colleagues who used to name the guy after their bodd and punch it 😀

    @Shuz: True, we have a sysem that should take its own course. But citizen activisn, esp as in cases of Jessica Lal an dPriyadarshini Mattoo can acomplish a lot. First we need to be aware not to act hasty….Don’t knw hw that awareness can be brought out. 😦

    @Nishu: What was not bad? my post or the Uma Khurana case ??

    Guys, I added Uma Khurana’s pic in my post, lynched it from todays HT edition.

  4. 5 rameshindiatimes September 8, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    “Don’t believe everything that you read in a news paper. If you can’t do that, stop reading newspaper”…….Winston Churchill.

    The values,those the media generate are diminishing rapidly because of growing commercialisation of this 4th pillar privilege of the democratic system.

    News, now become an entertainment of masses in which party report of a well known celebrity gets more importance and airtime than the multiple suicide death in some corner of the country….

    it reduced to neck break competition for increasing readership or viewership, because this is how the success of a newspaper is calculated…..who cares bout the reliability?

    it is just become a tool to create favourable sentiments in the minds of the masses; who seldom cares to think rationally; or to defame the rival to take the advantage of the situation.

    Unfortunately, our media is an easy prey to these animals if proper “chara” can be implanted….

    I think the time is not far away when Mr. Winston have to revise his words to

    “Don’t believe “anything” …….”.

  5. 6 Poonam Sharma September 9, 2007 at 8:41 am

    He he, the encyclopedia of quotations is back…Well said, if Churchil was here now she would certainly revise his words…:(

  6. 7 Kapil September 10, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    It is a shame on the part of some News Channels to resort to such ways to create news and therby increase their TRP. Now a day, we find more number of News Channels than the number of serials Ekta Kapoor has made till now. For most of these, the main aim is to increase the viewership and thereby the advertisments rather than to tell people what has happened.
    These days, when I tune into any news channel at nights, I see them reporting some sex scandal and showing obscene vidoes on TV. Shocking! How different is this from showing a porn movie.
    Some days back, Amir Khan had given an interview after a long time (after an year or so). He also mentioned the same and blamed them for blowing things out of proportion and the reason why he stayed away from the media.

  7. 8 Poonam Sharma September 11, 2007 at 10:14 am

    @Kapil, yes it’s a shame. 😦

    And if the channels do not self-regulate, they might just have to be saddled with content code from I & B ministry. Priyaranjan Dasmishi, it is as quoted by newspaer, is known to sit up late in night to watch and monitor what is being aired on which channel!!

    And then freedom of expression will certainly be breached. 😦

  8. 9 Rian September 14, 2007 at 12:46 am

    We all are talking about regulating channels but why dont we think that the tapes shown in the channel couldnt be totally stage managed as it had conversation of Uma Khurana with that reporter and the girl. From the tapes it appears that somewhere Uma khurana was also involved. May be the reality now shown by the police and the newspapers is also fake…just to cover up the whole issue as lot of big people may be involved in the racket.

  9. 10 Poonam Sharma September 15, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Rian, the point is not Uma Kurana is guilty or not. Point is that till the time she is proven gulity she remains only an accused who has to defend herself. Niether media nor mob have the right to carry out justice. It is strange that the givernment fired her from the job based on only heresay rather than completing its own enquiry!

    As for today’s media, seeing is believing is certainly not appropriate. With sphisticated editing material, both pictures and sound can be managed. Please note I didnt say if the reporter is culprit or not, again he should be given chnace to speak his side of story, but simply because of he tape that is aired on television we can not arrive at any conclusion till it is verified by law.

    Letting law take its own couse is important, imagine if someone maligns u, would you have media, mob, and government denounce you wothout verifying the truth, without hearing your story? Let the reporter tell his story as well, let’s not jump to conclusions …

  10. 11 Jeetendra Prasad October 11, 2007 at 8:31 am

    I totally agree with this article. Indeed the media is taking everything out of proportion to to point of absurdity. But we must not forget the basic market economics :- There is market for whatever public wants. Look at all the news channels TRPs who indulge in news like this. People are actually watching the stuff. I wonder if the irresponsible society is giving boost to irresponsible media or vice versa. Keep the good word going Poonam.
    Anyways You can refer my blog title “Sorry State of Indian News Channels” at :-

    http://jeetendraprasad.blogspot.com/2007/08/sorry-state-of-indian-news-channels.html

    Regards,
    Jeetendra Prasad.

    Poonam: Hey, thanks for the encouragement about the article. I did refer to this post in your blog and left my comment about the list you compiled. Keep on reading for more.

  11. 12 vasu November 5, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    SHAME ON THOSE CHANNELS.
    This is not the first time that TV news channes do fake news, and they need to be punished and law need to be ammended accordingly. and to those news channes neet to be off the air.
    SHAME ON THOSE CHANNELS=live india. Govt should ban these channels. and our police act too smart in those cases which are fake.

  12. 13 indian November 5, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    These new channels live india and INDIA TV ..all the breaking news…..COMMON MAN IN NO WERE BENIFITED BY THESE BRAKING NEWS, and FAKE NEWS. Govt. once in a while should open their eyes atlease and ban those channes with fake news. Hello my fello INDIANS dont believe these news channels. especially INDIA TV

  13. 14 indian November 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Jeetendra Prasad…and Poonam i like your comments and articles, keep going. Let us make a better HINDUSTAN.

    Sreenivas

    Poonam: Hey Sreenivas, thanks for the compliment..If you like it, keep on reading! 🙂

  14. 15 Awadhesh December 3, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    STARTLING FACTS About Indian Media – Who owns what?

    All the efforts and conspiracies are part of a
    concerted attack on Hindu interests and institutions,
    organized by Christian groups and supported by the
    Congress.

    A) NDTV: Funded by Gospels of Charity in Spain
    supports Communism. Recently it has developed a soft
    corner towards Pakistan because Pakistan President has
    allowed only this channel to be aired in Pakistan.
    NDTV’s CEO Prannoy Roy is co-brother of Prakash Karat,
    Gen Secy of Communist party of India.Brinda Karat’s
    sister Radhika Roy is married to Prannoy Roy. Also
    Prannoy Roy is a cousin of the prominent media
    personality Arundhati Roy

    B) CNN-IBN: 100% Funded by Southern Baptist Church
    with its branches in all over the world with HQ in US.
    The Church annually allocates 800 Million Dollars for
    Promotion of its channel. Its Indian Head is Rajdeep
    Sardesai and his wife Sagarika Ghosh.

    (C) TIMES GROUP LIST: TIMES OF INDIA, MID-DAY,
    NAV-BHARTH TIMES, STARDUST, FEMINA, VIJAYA TIMES,
    VIJAYA KARNATAKA, TIMES NOW (24 hr News Channel) &
    many more.

    Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. 80% of the
    Funding is done by “WORLD CHRISTIAN COUNCIL”, and
    balance 20% is equally shared by an Englishman and an
    Italian. The Italian ROBERTIO MINDO IS A CLOSE
    RELATIVE OF SONIA GANDHI.

    (D) STAR TV: Is run by an Australian, who is supported
    by St.Peters Pontificia l Church Melbourne.

    (E) HINDUSTAN TIMES: Owned by Birla Group, but hands
    have changed since Shobana Bhartiya took over.
    Presently it is working in Collobration with Times
    Group.

  15. 16 Awadhesh December 3, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    (F) The Hindu: A English Daily, started over 125 years
    has been recently taken over by Joshua Society, Berne,
    Switzerland.

    (G) INDIAN EXPRESS: DIVDED INTO TWO GROUPS. THE INDIAN
    EXPRESS & NEW INDIAN EXPRESS (SOUTHERN EDITION). Acts
    Ministries has major stake in the Indian express and
    later is still with the Indian counterpart

    (H) EENADU : Still to date controlled by an Indian
    named Ramoji Rao

  16. 17 Awadhesh December 3, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    No wonder why the news, the way it is presented and the content is so biased and there are there so few “Swadeshi” mediums of information. I personally feel Indian Express is doing a good job, Tavleen Singh sounds logical to me in spite of being critical to almost everyhting..

  17. 18 Poonam Sharma December 4, 2007 at 5:10 am

    @Awadhesh!

    That was some information! It could be a post in itself.

    I did not know Prannoy Roy was related to Prakash Karat. Nor the fundings for NDTV and CNN. Why do these Swiss societies and Churhes fund our channel? Even Hindu?

    I did not even know Sagarika Ghose and Rajdeep were married? And Hindustan Times is working in collaboration with TImes group? Since when? These are very startling facts to me.

    Thanks for the info, I will try to recheck and make a blog post about it.


  1. 1 Media Campaigning for Development « Visceral Observations Trackback on September 9, 2007 at 7:27 pm
  2. 2 Mumbai Under Seige « Visceral Observations Trackback on November 28, 2008 at 5:25 pm

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