As per a Livemint report on the 20th of August, a mega deal between Chinese company Alibaba and Reliance was on the cards as Alibaba looked to acquire a large stake in Reliance retail to challenge the dominance of Flipkart and Amazon in the Indian market. The media outlet also quoted anonymous sources claiming that there was meeting between Jack Ma, the Executice Chairman of Alibaba, and Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd in July in Mumbai to discuss the proposal for a potential $5 billion deal.
However, reacting to the report, Reliance has issued a clarification stating that the claims of the report are untrue, which Livemint has updated in its initial report. The clarification, as reported by Livemint, reads, An RIL spokesperson on Monday said that there has been no discussion with Alibaba or anyone else on acquiring a stake in Reliance Retail Ltd. Also, there was no meeting between Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Alibaba’s Jack Ma in Mumbai in July-end.”
The Livemint report on Reliance and Alibaba and the subsequent clarification by Reliance Industries highlights the problems with anonymous source based reporting in mainstream media today. Many politicians have claimed, including the President of the United States, that reporters are predisposed to inventing fictional anonymous sources to further a particular political agenda. And the freedom that is accorded to the press in a democratic country allows the media to escape without any consequences for their inaccurate reporting.