How the national media acted like clueless idiots over a picture of crowded Rajiv Chowk

Indian media has used wrong pictures on more than one occasions – from using images from South America to show landslide in Uttarakhand to the very recent incident of using pics from Syria to show army operations in Pathankot. However, on most of these occasions, they can hide behind the excuse that “tyranny of distance” forced them to commit such mistakes as those events occurred at places far off or restricted for media’s movement.

But what happened on 4th of January leaves the Indian media with no such excuse. They goofed up while using an image of Rajiv Chowk metro station in Delhi – a place that is in the heart of the city where headquarters and studios of most of the mainstream media organizations are situated.

It all started when Twitter user @amritabhinder shared a picture of overcrowded Rajiv Chowk metro station. This picture was shared by many users to claim that the odd-even formula had caused strain on public transport, making the metro stations overcrowded and inconvenient for the common man.

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There was one issue though with the picture. It was not taken on Monday, but on Sunday when the odd-even formula was not in place. The twitter user clarified the same to many when asked about it

Somehow, this detail was ignored by the media and they used the same pictures from their official Twitter handle. This is the first mistake media did – they showed no regard for details and facts. An unverified picture was used with confidence.

Rajiv Chowk won’t be too far for these news organizations to go and click photos to verify themselves, but they chose to randomly pick a picture from Twitter.

The issue was the taken up by the Aam Aadmi Party, which somehow claimed that the picture was from Diwali last year and it was taken by Hindustan Times.

This is when the media committed the second mistake – they didn’t even care to compare the picture that was from Diwali last year and the picture that was originally shared by @amritabhinder. Both the pictures are different, and even Hindustan Times confirmed it:

When we contacted Amrita, she told us:

The photo was called fake/hoax and I was being abused, blamed and bullied. I clarified on my twitter timeline that it was a photo shared by a friend and this friend informed me that I could credit it to an Instagram post. I found the person’s instagram feed and posted a screenshot on my twitter timeline to clarify the date and time of this pic. Some new agencies were saying that it was a photo clicked during last year’s Diwali rush but the time stamp on the Instagram feed confirmed that it wasn’t an old photo and was just yesterday’s. What surprised me was how news agencies started using my post as a ‘source’ for the morning rush at Rajiv Chowk station and later when some people questioned the authenticity of the image the same agencies called me a liar and updated their status!

The point really that everybody has missed is that wouldn’t Monday commuter traffic only increase as against Sunday. And given that the odd even plan will now require more people to use the public transport system seemed like the only logical conclusion to come at. But in the continuous bullying and defamation, the simple point has been well ignored.

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Picture posted by Amrita

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Picture posted by Hindustan Times as clarification

To hide their own incompetence, media started asking questions like “Was ‘fake’ picture circulated to defame AAP government?” – again short of facts as picture was never fake.

And finally the media totally ignored reports coming during the rush hour (when offices close) when Rajiv Chowk was indeed overcrowded. A Twitter user @Nirmalogy shared pictures that showed that the situation was no better than what was on Sunday as depicted in picture shared by @amritabhinder

Tragically, Twitter user Nirmalogy was attacked and abused by AAP supporters for sharing the pictures because they thought these pictures were also “fake” as claimed by the media.

This was a case when two Twitter users had to face mob attack because the media decided to deflect the blame on them instead of accepting that they goofed up twice.

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