Reports

NDTV journalist exposed on social media for gross lies and misreporting

Yesterday we had written a report  on how NDTV spun an interview with Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. She gave an interview to NDTV’s Sunetra Choudhury on various issues such as the new draft policy for women, marital rape, better facilities and help for abused women etc. But NDTV’s report chose to focus only on one issue, and the headline used was this:

The original headline

The video of the interview with the Minister though, showed that she had said something different. In fact there was no mention of the word “trolling” and neither had she said anything would be equated to violence. Maneka Gandhi had only said that they have asked MHA to state a separate division to deal with “viciousness against women on the net”, and also explained how her Ministry has take steps to stop this from happening on Matrimonial sites. There was no mention of “trolling” or about “considering anything as violence”.

When Sunetra Choudhury was questioned on this, she gave replies such as “here is the video, it is very clear” and later claimed she “had to leave out bits to fit into 19 mins slot”. As the day passed, NDTV kept changing the headline of the report:

Multiple headlines, same report

The word “trolling” had been dropped in the final headline, which was still misleading since it claimed that Maneka Gandhi had said it “would be considered as violence”. When asked why the word “trolling” was dropped, the anchor replied that it was to make sure that “discerning viewers don’t get put off”. Later when she was asked again for the video showing the Minister say what she claimed she had said, Sunetra’s reply was that since there was no clarification, her story stood correct!

So according to Sunetra Choudhury, until someone steps in and says they have been misquoted, the misleading news is correct? And there is no burden of proof on the journalist to back up what they claim?

Another social media user, Anand Ranganathan, himself a columnist, also found the changing of headlines odd, to which she replied that only the headlines were changed and the content was the same:

But these were blatant lies, and she was caught. Anand Ranganathan went on to put out screenshots of the article, and the 2 versions show that there was a complete rewrite of the piece, and Sunetra had lied through her teeth:

The cached copies of the 2 versions are here and here. Even at this point Sunetra was unwilling to admit her guilt and chose to brazen it out. Now her argument was that headline was “still there” and the TV interview was “still same”. Did an NDTV journalist just imply that we must be grateful that NDTV did not edit and change a recorded video interview?

Perhaps the most telling comment, which may reflect the ethos of NDTV as a whole, came from Sunetra Choudhury in her conversation with senior journalist Minhaz Merchant. He too asked similar questions of her, as to why she had chosen to mislead. To this, the response of the NDTV journalist was shocking:

Till now, we always believed, “news” has to be based on hard cold facts, and facts are objective. But NDTV’s journalists seem to have a different understanding of news. This is the first time possibly a journalist has accepted that “news is subjective” for them.

To start, NDTV chose a false headline, used a statement which the Minister never made, and attributed it to her. Secondly, when asked for video proofs, NDTV chose to chop and change headlines to avoid scrutiny. Thirdly, the concerned reporter lied that the “content was same” even when the content was in fact heavily changed. And finally, in a Freudian slip, the reporter admitted that to her “news is always subjective”! It is indeed a shame that NDTV has such low standards of journalism.

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