Quint, your story about Sri Sri was fake news. Just face the facts!

Dear ‘The Quint’,

You seem to have been hurt that one of our volunteer-driven attempts termed your report an example of ‘fake news’, which it was. Three days after our volunteer-driven report was published, you came up with a defence, which was as good as Suresh Raina defending a short ball on a South African pitch.

What you’ve done is typical of what your ilk – the mainstream media swearing by its ‘liberal’ credentials – does when they’re caught on the wrong foot. You shift the goalpost.

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In your response, you claim that the only aspect your report focused was on the Art of Living (AOL) being fined for holding the World Culture Festival by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), and thus, “case closed!”

That’s where you shifted the goalpost.

That the AOL was asked to pay up by the NGT is obviously a fact (which you assert by typing in all capital letters) and not fake news; our volunteer-driven report never contested that aspect. Our report focused on two aspects where you were caught peddling half-truths:

  1. Your video report made it appear as if farming stopped in the area because of the AOL event in 2016, while the truth is that an NGT order of 2015 had already banned farming on Yamuna floodplains.
  2. Misrepresenting a farmer’s opinion where he didn’t blame it entirely on AOL or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

By the way, AOL’s appeal against the NGT order (where it asked AOL to pay up) is under consideration before the Supreme Court, and thus technically the case is not yet closed, as you claim, so that is another half-truth you are peddling even in your latest report addressed to OpIndia.

Your latest report doesn’t address the first point at all – why the NGT order banning farming was not put forward in your report – so you continue to peddle half-truth to your readers. To seemingly address the second point, you uploaded longer video clips of farmers’ interviews to prove that you didn’t misrepresent their views.

You further asked OpIndia to upload the ‘raw footage’ to prove that farmers were not “instructed” by our volunteers to say something against The Quint.

Well, first of all, here is the unedited raw footage of the farmer who accused The Quint of malicious editing. As readers can see, the farmer brings up the mention of The Quint without any “instructions” by our volunteer. In fact, the farmer, Sukhbir, names The Quint twice, without our volunteer “instructing” him to do so. Only after he named The Quint twice, our volunteers asked questions specific to The Quint.

However, the interesting thing is how you suspect that farmers could be “instructed” to say stuff that can be later carried on by media organisations. Perhaps that’s where you betrayed your own modus operandi. In one of the video clips you uploaded, which had a sudden ‘jump cut’, the farmer suddenly starts talking about Narendra Modi. Was that an “instruction” from your team? Why was there a cut in the video?

We can keep trading such charges till the cows come home. We don’t want to get into this game that you started by accusing us of “instructing” the farmers. However, thanks for letting the readers know that media organisations “instruct” people to come up with statements to peddle half-truths or a particular agenda. Earlier, a journalist named Nikhil Wagle too had ended up exposing this trick by the media.

Anyway, coming back to the issue at hand. Our volunteer-driven report was not about giving any clean chit to AOL or Sri Sri for holding the festival – let the Supreme Court decide that – it was an example of how the common citizens, armed with mobile phones, can cross-check facts and narrative peddled by the mainstream media.

You represent the worst of the mainstream media despite being a new media venture. In 2017, your journalist was booked for abetting the suicide of Lance Naik Roy Matthew. In fact, your pussyfooting on Hafeez Saeed is not surprising, considering you had published an entire piece about Osama Bin Laden being a father and a husband. You had also come up with a story that basically declared Kulbhushan Jadhav an ‘Indian spy’ thereby endangering his life and national security. We had rebutted that story threadbare and post massive backlash, you had taken the story down and decided to “recheck its story“, but not before Pakistanis and its official agencies had started quoting The Quint article on Jadhav in an attempt to undermine India’s position.

The whole point of our report was to empower the common people to fight your might – which is owing to you possessing billions of rupees and being part of the same old media establishment – and show the real power of citizen journalism.

You can keep shifting the goalpost and try to make it only about one particular NGT order or about the raw footage, but deep down even you now know that the old media tricks employed by your ilk will not go unchecked and uncontested from now on.

Just accept this reality and move on.

Yours Sincerely,

Nupur J Sharma,
Editor, OpIndia.com


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