After OpIndia expose, The Wire selectively alters its story, gets further slammed by readers

On Sunday, a website named “The Wire” came out with a sensational news report titled, The golden touch of Jay Amit Shah, which insinuated that businesses of BJP President Amit Shah’s son had seen a dramatic surge after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014.

While it appeared some sort of investigative journalism from a distance, a closer look and scrutiny revealed that the article was based on shoddy research, lack of knowledge about financial issues, and dishonest narrative of selective facts. OpIndia highlighted these shocking shortcomings in an article.

In our article, we had also pointed out how the reporter had made extremely naive errors like reading negative numbers as positive integers. We had also pointed out that article was not forthcoming about the profit/loss figures during the FY 2015-16 year when the surge in revenue from 50,000 in the previous year to about 80 crore had happened.

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As it turned out, even after the spike in the revenues, the company named Temple Enterprises Pvt Ltd, had registered a total loss of 1.48 crores in that financial year, which rather proved that Jay Amit Shah had no such “Golden touch”.

What further eroded this “Golden touch” narrative by the The Wire was the Revenue and Surplus figures or the net worth of the company. As it turned out, the touch of Jay Amit Shah was so “golden” that the net worth of the company plummeted from about Rs 19 lakh as of 31st March 2015 to negative Rs 80 lakhs a year later. So understandably the company was in trouble financially and soon shut shop.

But The Wire report on the other hand claimed that the Reserves and Surplus had JUMPED from 19 lakh to Rs 80 lakh in one year (reading a negative number as positive). This single point was enough to discredit the fact checking capabilities and financial literacy of the website, and as a result they predictably got called out.

Now it seems that The Wire decided to clarify on that point and issued a corrigendum, which itself was inaccurate. This is what they initially issued (emphasis added):

“In an earlier version of the article, it was stated that the reserves and surplus of Temple Enterprise rose to 80.2 lakh in 2015-16, whereas it turned negative compared to the previous year. The direction of change, which is inconsequential to the company’s overall performance, has been duly corrected.”

Going by the above corrigendum, The Wire’s interpretations of a company’s health were interesting to say the least, as they clearly didn’t think that financial health doesn’t point to “overall” performance.

This amused various twitter users:

The Wire then seems to have realised that they had again erred, and as pointed out above, and issued a fresh corrigendum (emphasis added):

“In an earlier version of the article, it was stated that the reserves and surplus of Temple Enterprise rose to 80.2 lakh in 2015-16, whereas it turned negative compared to the previous year. The reserves of the company at the end of the year are inconsequential for the larger investigation into the huge increase in turnover of the company.”

However, it should be noted that The Wire is focusing on just one problem in their original report. They have not clarified about:

  • The innuendo that Jay Amit Shah got a  loan of about 15.78 crores from a Non-Banking Financial company (NBFC), while it just recorded a revenue of Rs 7 crore. The article failed to mention that this is a standard operating procedure of a NBFC.
  • Claiming that Kusum Finserve, another company Jay Amit Shah, had raised a loan of Rs 25 crore from a cooperative bank against a collateral valued at under Rs 7 crore. The corrigendum does not mention that it was a Letter of Credit and not a loan.
  • Raising question about Jay Amit Shah’s partnership getting a loan of Rs 10.35 crore loan from a public sector enterprise, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) when the fact is that IREDA explicitly states that any any private entity in India can apply for a loan.
  • And finally the “Golden Touch” narrative built based on the surge in turnover while the company had actually turned a loss of Rs 1.48 crore in the financial year.

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