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”.
As it does in such situations, Twitter came together to help her collect ‘data’ for her story.
I was thrown out of my home for millennia because I am Hindu. TOI called it “migration”. https://t.co/LAaPmEc9FB
— Ashish (@Infinitchy) August 10, 2017
Ashish is a Kashmiri Pandit.
My community was hounded and persecuted out of my forefathers’ land. Will that count? https://t.co/9QiC9EyXTZ
— www.dimplehere.com (@dimple_kaul) August 10, 2017
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).
Forget buying or renting, my Kashmiri Hindu friend cannot live in her own house in Kashmir. DM for details https://t.co/GKjEHFIfOs
— दिव्या (@divya_16_) August 10, 2017
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:
Hamid Ansari throws the Muslim victimhood biscuit & our upright journos rush to grab it first & build a narrative. Cute. https://t.co/EjcdfSJMgC
— I.B.T.L (@IndiaBTL) August 10, 2017
And well, it is not always about religion, but can be dressed up so; many offered this ‘help’ too:
I was denied apartments because I am a business owner, not an MNC employee. Can I use my Jain minority card?https://t.co/2YVwiTX12S
— FarraGau CowFefe (@YearOfRat) August 10, 2017
2006 I was denied house in a society because I was staying alone and used to party. Can I peddle it as denial due 2 religion like others do https://t.co/ghsVUgoufo
— Jiten Gajaria (@jitengajaria) August 10, 2017
Some Twitterati with a sense of humour also brought in the disputed Ram Janma Bhoomi.
Name: Lord Shri Ram
Religion: Hindu https://t.co/16XetlbmJ6
— whinyRoomie (@whinyRoomie) August 10, 2017
Shri Ram didn’t get accommodation in Ram Janambhumi Ayodhaya,Shri Krishna in Krishna Janambhumi Mathura. Pls cover https://t.co/ZyKESeeNHd
— Tajinder Bagga (@TajinderBagga) August 10, 2017
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:
— Commoner (@luckyfresh) August 10, 2017
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:
Pehele story banaado and then look for data … Kamaal ka presstitution Hai … @rupasubramanya ji aose hi data data karti reheti Hai
— Keep Walking…!!! (@prasad_athereya) August 10, 2017
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.