The Media Rumble is an annual conclave that is organised by Newslaundry and Teamwork Arts. The aim of the conclave is to discuss the news and media industry. This year, it was held on 2nd and 3rd August in Delhi, at the India Habitat Centre. In one of the segments of The Media Rumble, Vinod Kapri, who was the former editor of TV9 Bharatvarsh accidentally admitted that one of his reporters had quit his job after he was forced to do anti-Modi stories.
The question that was posed to Vinod Kapri at The Media Rumble, was whether the media today is subverting democracy by its coverage. In response, Vinod Kapri said that it is often said there is pressure from the Modi government’s side to skew the media narrative, however, such pressure has always been there from all governments. However, now the issue is, according to Kapri, that journalists in the newsroom are ‘already in pressure’ even before the government says something. He says that the “pressure” is not so much from the government but from the journalists themselves.
What pressure the Modi government might be exerting on the media, was an unsubstantiated claim by Kapri. However, in the process of answering the question, he did reveal that one of his journalists had quit his job after he was forced to do anti-Modi coverage.
In The Media Rumble segment, Vinod Kapri said that while the Prime Minister was in Varanasi right before the 2019 elections, during a meet of the reporters of TV9 Bharatvarsh where the editorial line of the channel’s coverage was being discussed, Kapri had told his team that they would only be covering the state of the Ganga, or how the conditions of roads were, or the condition of the PM’s adopted village. He had, according to him, asked his reporters not to report the Prime Minister’s visit to temples during his visit to Varanasi.
Vinod Kapri then said that while the entire team was on board with the slant of the reportage, one journalist from the team raised an objection that the direction that Kapri was insisting on was an agenda against the Prime Minister. Kapri says that he tried to convince the reporter that they were only showing the truth and not running any agenda, however, the report quit the next day because he did not want to be a part of biased coverage against the PM.
ये न्यूज़ इंडस्ट्री में भूत-प्रेत और कुत्ता-बिल्ली संपादक के तौर पर मशहूर विनोद कापड़ी का कुबूलनामा है कि कैसे एक रिपोर्टर ने इसके लिए “सुपारी किलिंग” करने से मना किया। दबाव डालने पर टीवी 9 भारतवर्ष की नौकरी को लात मार दी। बहुत दिनों से इसी सच के सामने आने का इंतज़ार था मुझे ☺️☺️ pic.twitter.com/UehEemFAEG
— abhishek upadhyay (@upadhyayabhii) August 11, 2019
In The Media Rumble segment, Vinod Kapri then says that the problem in the media industry is more from within than the pressure from any government.
However, while Vinod Kapri says that the journalist left his job because he was asked to do “good journalism”, a cursory glance at what TV9 Bharatvarsh was covering when the Prime Minister was in Varanasi reveals a different story.
While during his Media Rumble speech, Kapri said that they wanted to do journalism based on truth and not cover Modi’s visits to religious places, one video by TV9 Bharatvarsh reveals that their slant was decidedly anti-Modi as the video is about a man confronting supporting on why they choose to chant ‘Har Har Modi’ when ‘Har Har’ is supposed to be used for Lord Shiv.
The agenda was also clear when TV9 Bharatvarsh published a video while talking to Muslims and how they see PM Modi. The views were obvious. While Kapri says they wanted to stay away from religious angles, they repeatedly peddled the anti-Modi narrative.
The anti-Modi slant in the media has always been rather apparent. It was only recently revealed by a senior journalist in his book that sweets were distributed at the Doordarshan office when PM Modi (then Chief Minister of Gujarat) was denied a visa for the United States of America. ABP had also censored a clip of an interview with PM Modi where he had slammed the channel for blacking out a press conference by Arun Jaitley where he had, on the basis of OpIndia expose, spoken of the dubious land deals by Rahul Gandhi.