Thursday, April 15, 2021
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Journalist ‘collects’ data after deciding what the story will be

Under normal circumstances, journalism is about writing a story on the basis of the information collected or discovered. Not in 2017, though. One Times of India journalist reached out to Twitterati for information, when she already had decided the “peg of the story”.

The ‘journalistic’ tweet that started it all

As it does in such situations, Twitter came together to help her collect ‘data’ for her story.

Ashish is a Kashmiri Pandit.

So is Dimple.

Few more came out in support of those Indians who have been denied accommodation (home in Kashmir) owing to their religion (Kashmiri Pandit).

Clearly, the assumption here was that the journalist was definitely not looking for such stories. They are not the ‘right kind of’ victims.

Furthermore, the question came across as someone already had a story in the draft folder, with a set agenda (click bait, sensationalism) in place, just trying to get one or two sources to pad it up. More so, because this is not the first time such articles have been written. Just Google “rent discrimination India”, hundreds of articles will come up, including at Times of India, say this and this. So if Times of India has already a repository, it is a surprise why was the journalist ‘sourcing’ it from Twitter.

Was the story planned to support the outgoing Vice President’s “insecurity” comment, just to prove a point in follow up articles to cater to a the journalism bias? That’s what many people wondered:

And well, it is not always about religion, but can be dressed up so; many offered this ‘help’ too:

Some Twitterati with a sense of humour also brought in the disputed Ram Janma Bhoomi.

Forget renting or buying, even a stay for a few hours is sometimes denied based on religion, but again, perhaps not the kind of victim the journalist was looking for:

And yes, this whole flaw of collecting data later to suit a theory (just the opposite of what is scientific) was also pointed out by people:

People also reminded her not to just trust people based on a few tweets that she may find to her liking. Remember how one story was peddled as “Muslim woman denied flat in Mumbai”. Whereas in reality Misbah was evicted because of discrepancy in documents, and not religion.

The journalist later made her account private so that she is not bombarded with more such information and suggestion. Perhaps, as a journalist, being a little more responsible and less sensationalism enthusiast would be a good idea.

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Nirwa Mehta
Politically incorrect. Author, Flawed But Fabulous.

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