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Reporter’s Diary: How much is too much?

21-July-2012
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Reporter’s Diary: How much is too much?

What started out as a horrific case of molestation of a young girl on a busy street in Guwahati, is now alarmingly pointing fingers at the role of media in the entire sordid episode. In a latest development, the reporter, Gaurav Jyoti Neog, who had filmed the entire incident, has been arrested. He has been booked under no less than 11 counts, including intention to insult the modesty of a woman, obscene act and disturbing public tranquility.

The role of media is once again under the scanner and raises a very important question – in the quest for bringing news as it happens, where does a journalist draw the line? How much is too much? Here, Neog has been accused of instigating the mob to heckle the hapless girl. Some of the initial footage uploaded on YouTube also shows a scribe asking the girl to reveal her name, her address and where she studied.

The channel has been maintaining that the footage shot by its reporter, who has since quit the channel, has helped identify the culprits and led to some arrests. Another fallout of the incident has been the channel’s Editor-in-Chief Atanu Bhuyan tendering in his resignation, alleging that the channel’s management might come under pressure from the Assam Chief Minister to oust him. The Chief Minister has strongly refuted these allegations, while the channel too has distanced itself from Bhuyan’s statement.

The incident once again raises the issue of self-regulation in media. In this case, it is also about the reporter himself being part of the mob frenzy. This case has shocked the entire nation. It remains to be seen whether it will lead to some positive changes in how news is reported, or will it just disappear from the people’s radar once some other shocking ‘breaking news’ takes over?

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.