On 2nd April 2018, a portal which had long ceased to be the media watchdog it postured itself as, has been caught on the wrong foot again.
The rise of the BJP in the Northeast doesn’t seem to have gone down well with many from the media fraternity. In an article written by one Minakshi Bujarbaruah, the author tried to present different views of different people who belonged to the Northeast, though the excerpt of the article. “it remains to be seen how the region’s indigenous communities will come to terms with Hindutva”, gives away the author’s intentions.
However, when the article was shared by senior journalist and founding partner of the Newslaundry, it got an interesting response from the Editor of Shillong Times.
The Editor of Shillong Times, Patricia Mukhim, alleged that the article was mostly a figment of the imagination. She then referred to a specific portion of the article that quoted a media person called Wilfred Lyndoh. The article attributed a direct quote to ‘Lyndoh’ and Mukhim’s contention was that no journalist by that name exists.
Madhu Trehan acknowledged that comment by saying that she will look into the matter.
The quote attributed to this “media person” is as follows :
“Mr Wilfred Lyndoh” appears in another part of the article as well.
The fictitious “Mr Lyndoh” talks about how the entire NDA alliance consists of 10% BJP people who are mostly “upper caste Hindus”.
After being called out, an asterisk appeared next to the seemingly imaginary media person Wilfred Lyndoh’s name. The article was then updated with the following caveat.
Interestingly, the caveat has been included in the plural. It says “the names” have been changed. One wonders if it was only Mr. Lyndoh who was conjured up by the author, or other names have been concocted as well.
Unnamed sources have long been faithful companions of the journalist fraternity. Every unsubstantiated rumour and controversial opinion has been attributed to the sources that cannot be named. This time, as alleged by Mukhim, Newslaundry seems to have upped the ante and concocted a fictitious media person to further the journalists personal narrative.
One wonders, what was the need to change the name of the said person if he exists in reality? Normal journalistic practice is to say “on conditions of anonymity”. This is bizarre that names have been changed without explaining why. In absence of this explanation and statement by the editor of Shillong Times, the only plausible explanation is what the Editor feared – that the journalist is peddling her own views as that of the Northeast Indians.
This, however, isn’t the first time that NewsLaundry journalists and columnists have been caught on the wrong foot. Recently, during the Gujarat elections, a columnist with the portal was caught spreading propaganda using Twitter, by plugging an old video of the Prime Minister and passing it off a current video. The portal had also deliberately misquoted the Prime Minister to turn his statement into an ‘anti-Dalit’ joke. In fact, even their “fact-check” on PM Modi’s interview with Arnab Goswami was fact-checked by us.
Newslaundry wanted to “keep news real”, and with their recent shenanigans, that certainly doesn’t seem to be happening.