Sonia Singh, an Editorial Director in NDTV, has proudly posted a column – which is taken from her Keynote Address at UNESCO, India to observe World Press Freedom Day – on NDTV website. In the article headlined “Let Journalism Thrive – Television and Media Freedom“, she talks about freedom, challenges, choices, threats and violence associated with Press in India. Sonia talks about her journey from 1992, discusses evolution and proliferation of private channels in India, talks about World Press Freedom Index, and then quotes selective examples and scenarios to conclude dangers faced by press in India.
The interesting part of this philosophical and ethical discussion ending with thus quote of Camus, “A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad”, is to see patches of emotional spin smartly used by her to furnish her propaganda. While talking about indirect censorship techniques used by corporates and government, she abruptly mentions Gajendra Singh and glorifies his suicide story as a struggling saga of poor farmers faced in India:
So, sadly, yes, a farmer has to travel to Jantar Mantar to commit suicide to get his voice heard.
The story is still under investigation. Prima Facie, it is a stunt gone wrong, but Sonia Singh took the liberty to come to improbable conclusions to defame the country. NDTV is well known for preaching ethics which it doesn’t follow, however, the constant glorification and victimization of Gajendra Singh raises a couple of grave concerns:
Is media reeling under the pressure of AAP? Arvind Kejriwal has already issued diktats against media which puts them in pressure. According to a circular issued by the state information and publicity department, if any officer associated with the Delhi government feels that a published or aired item damages his or the government’s reputation, he should file a complaint with the principal secretary. This raises questions like, “Are journalists scared of talking truth about AAP now that Kejriwal has started issuing threats of defamation and more subtle other threats?”
Is NDTV trying to divert Gajendra Singh’s suicide as a non-political event? While preliminary investigations found AAP leaders guilty or provocation and negligence, Sonia makes it a totally different issue. OpIndia.Com pointed out some serious questions and evidences. Initial investigations have clarified that Gajendra Singh had political motivations and he was not a poor helpless farmer. Why is Sonia defending this fact?
@rupasubramanya Even if he slipped as you say, why did he choose to do this at Jantar Mantar and not Jaipur ? For the media cameras !
— sonia singh (@soniandtv) May 10, 2015
@rupasubramanya Rupa,the point you clearly miss by a mile is this 1) the man stood with a noose around his neck on a branch. Why ? — sonia singh (@soniandtv) May 10, 2015
@rupasubramanya And district administration has now given his family compensation for damaged crops ! Would they give this to businessman ?
— sonia singh (@soniandtv) May 10, 2015
While it is true that many farmers exasperated at the lack of support systems commit suicide, to spin a stunt gone wrong as a disgruntled farmer committing suicide to get heard in the heart of Delhi, that too at an International Event is nothing short of malevolence. Sonia also deliberately ignores the facts that the so called farmer later turned out to be a well to do entrepreneur and not a struggling farmer. One of this should surprise anyone, considering she is a senior editor at NDTV currently under investigation over money laundering.
. @soniandtv @rupasubramanya Sonia, i must tell you if you bring Pioneer into picture, i have to bring NDTV into picture. Better avoid that
— J Gopikrishnan (@jgopikrishnan70) May 10, 2015
Sonia talks about Freedom and Ethics of Press but dodges away from fundamentals of journalism. While she talks of conflict of interest by other media persons, she safely tucks away the truth that she is married to a minister of the Congress government that is largely responsible for rural distress even after almost ruling for 6 decades.
– Special thanks to @ajayendar for valuable contributions