‘Lazy Journalism’ vs ‘Why blame Journalists’: Jay Panda, Prabhu Chawla spar over incorrect report

That Indian media has very little credibility is a known fact. Month after month, we have been exposing how Indian media has got its facts completely wrong, sometimes due to incompetence, sometimes out of malice. Today, again another of media’s goof-ups came to the fore on Twitter, when BJD MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda took on some malicious reporting.

According to Panda, it all started a few days ago when a well known Odia newspaper (which he refuses to name) published a report about alleged poor utilisation of MPLAD funds by him, thereby making adverse comments on his performance. He further says that he had refuted this on his Facebook page on the very same day. One can indeed find posts relating to utilisation of MPLAD funds, on his Facebook page. He further says he even sent a rejoinder to the concerned newspaper, but it was not published by them.

Yesterday, he says, another Odia newspaper, carried the same news, without following “the basic journalistic practice of cross-checking information by contacting the ‘accused’ person”. He again took to social media to clarify and stated that there was a delay in the Government website which was hence citing outdated MPLAD- utilisation figures, which the media was blindly reporting. Hence, today he put out the latest Utilisation certificate which was issued to him, showing more than 99.5% utilisation of funds:

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For some reason, Senior Editor Prabhu Chawla jumped in to defend his fraternity, giving some rather odd logic. This was what transpired between the two:

If one goes by Prabhu Chawla’s logic, media must be given all data on a platter, which they are then to simply report, thus eliminating the need for media to do any work verifying the data. If Chawla feels it is too much to ask of journalists to verify data that they are using, and cross-checking with the person concerned, then it certainly is a new form of journalism.

The people maintaining the Government site should also be held accountable for the delay in updating the data, but this by no means exonerates journalists who are using the data.

What is even notable is that as Jay Panda alleges, the concerned newspaper did not even bother to publish the rebuttal sent to it by the MP, leave alone issue a correction. If the media house had made a genuine mistake, it should not have had any objection to publishing Panda’s rebuttal.

On a side note, if any of our readers from Odisha can tell us the names of the newspapers, it would be of great help!

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