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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reporting Kashmir
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Objectivity and factual accuracy once used to be the hallmark of the Indian national media, with certain exceptions. Students of journalism need to have a comparative reading of an incident reported by different news agencies and newspapers. They need to realise that most of the times it is lack of seriousness at reporting and editorial levels that makes a copy utterly subjective and inaccurate. The young students, living in a conflict area, tend to become victims of scepticism and they begin to view, perceive and interpret everything as a "state policy", "conspiracy" and "injustice".
To err is human. Myself had to apologise when once in an oped piece in The Hindu (, I called maestro Zubin Mehta an Indian-American. It was pointed out by my editor Siddharth Varadarajan that Zubin was only an Indian national. In another oped article in The Hindu (, I erroneously described Ghulam Nabi Azad of 1980 as "Rajiv Gandhi's poster boy" instead of "Sanjay Gandhi's poster boy". The error was pointed out by Karan Thappar in a mail to my Chief Editor. We immediately made a correction in the online edition.
However, that all is passé. It seems that nobody in the editorial reads a copy any more. Have a look on today’s reporting of an encounter at Sempora Srinagar as carried by one of the largest circulated national dailies as its 2nd lead on front page:
Ø  The report calls the two militants as "terrorists" in its heading and body and thus takes a position.
Ø  DIG South Kashmir has confirmed on record that the two militants were travelling from Pulwama to Srinagar. The newspaper report says without quoting that they were on way to Pulwama from Srinagar.
Ø  DIG South Kashmir has said on record that it was a chance encounter and that Police or any other government agency had no specific information about the two militants' movement. The newspaper report says that security forces laid the naka at Sempora when they received "information" about the two militants' movement.
Ø  The newspaper report says that a woman, a Policeman and two CRPF men got injured in cross firing. Factually, two CPRF men and two civilians got injured.
Ø  With reference to Monday's attack on CRPF near Bijbehara, the report says: "Only six CRPF men were Monday morning injured in an attack on a CRPF convoy by militants near Bijbehara". What is the need to write "Only"?
Ø  "Two militants died killed in the brief encounter", says the newspaper report. It should have been only "died" or "killed".

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