In the last few days, several media outlets have apologized for inconsistencies in reporting. Outlook magazine led the pack with an apology published on the website’s landing page. The magazine had incorrectly displayed the map of Jammu & Kashmir in one of its recent editions.
“In the print version of the article ‘Kashmir-Baloch Bhai Bhai’, in the Outlook issue dated August 29, 2016, two maps on page 51 inadvertently misrepresent the state of Jammu & Kashmir,” the magazine said.
It added that the “error crept in on account of maps sourced from the internet” and “is deeply regretted”. The online version of the article available on the website has removed both the maps.
The Indian Express also admitted an error on its part. The newspaper had erroneously reported that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had referred to stone pelters in Kashmir as “stooges of Pakistan”. While Jaitley did take potshots at stone pelters in Samba, he referred to them as “assailants” and not “stooges”.
Digital daily Scroll.in regretted having published a news piece that wrongly attributed a statement to Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar. “The earlier version of this story, entitled “Prakash Javadekar gets his facts wrong, says Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji and Sardar Patel were hanged” erroneously suggested that the minister had made a mistake,” Scroll said.
Veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi was appalled that the media actually reported on the alleged statement of Javadekar. “The story is childishly absurd. How could a responsible media outlet put it out,” Naqvi said.
But he added that many times when allegations are made then politicians simply try to forego accountability by stating that they had been misquoted. Terming the apologies as a “small matter”, Naqvi stated that there was a need for reform in the media owing to its misplaced priorities.
“Journalists should be responsible. They should not misreport the remarks of politicians. But why be selective?” Naqvi asked. He opined that the apologies had been issued swiftly since the misreporting had hurt powerful politicians. But the media was silent on a lot of other ethical issues.
On the other hand, Rahul Dev claimed that Outlook, The Indian Express and Scroll were reputed media organisations. However, at some places “common sense” was not being used. Citing problems at the reporting level, he mentioned that such lapses were indicative of information not being verified.
“There is dereliction of basic journalistic duty of cross checking and going to the first source,” Dev said. Criticizing journalists for “non-application of mind” and working in a “hurry”, he wondered how a media outlet could buy into a story which alleges that a union minister had stated that the founding fathers of modern India were hanged.