I.N.D.I.A's journo boycott & what it means

I.N.D.I.A's journo boycott & what it means

The coalition grouping has spared journos from TV9, ABP and Zee News.

TV9 network

MUMBAI: The lines have been clearly drawn. I.N.D.I.A the ragtag coalition of various political parties has named and “shamed” journalists with whom its members will not have any tuck.

Amongst them: Republic founder Arnab Goswami, Aaj Tak anchors Chitra Tripathi and Sudhir Choudhary, Network18’s Aman Chopra, Amish Devgan and Anand Narasimham, India Today’s  Gaurav Sawant and Shiv Aroor, Bharat Express’ Aditi Tyagi, Times Now’s Sushant Sinha and Navika Kumar, India TV’s Prachi Parashar, DD News’ Ashok Shrivastava, and Bharat24’s Rubika Liyaquat.

I.N.D.I.A’s media coordination committee said that none of its members will go into their studios and get into conversation with any of the 14 who have been named in their advisory. The reasoning: they are anti opposition and pro – the ruling party at the Centre.

Media observers are questioning I.N.D.I.A’s decision. While it is true that signals are being sent out to these media houses as well as to the coalition’s fans that there is a schism in the news media itself and they are open to take journos on, will I.N.D.I.A’s members be deprived of sharing their opinions to a large section of voter-viewers these channels and anchors command. Will that work against the coalition and in favour of the BJP?

The I.N.D.I.A boycott is also a warning to the news channel's promoters that they would be deprived of important government spending on ads should any members of the group get elected in the centre or at the state levels. And that will definitely hurt as government spending contributes substantially to many news channel’s health.

The boycott list also has a few surprises: no anchor from the TV9 network has been named in it. The latter network has often been accused of toeing the BJP line by some segments. So either the accusations have been way off the mark or the TV9’s heft has grown so much that I.N.D.I.A does not want to mess with it. The ABP network too has been spared by the coalition. One has often heard its CEO moan and groan how it has been targeted and deprived of public sector and government spending because it takes a balanced view in its reportage.  However, the group’s alleged proximity to the Congress top brass has often been gossiped about. Then surprisingly journalists of the Subhash Chandra helmed Zee News have been spared by the coalition.

Are the exemptions and errors is what some media specialists are asking?

Media observers are also raising their eyebrows on how long can I.N.D.I.A continue with its journalist hate and boycott  list? And whether this step will force the named journos to become more balanced in their news and views. Or at least appear to be non-partisan. Most are sniggering that I.N.D.I.A’s hardline stance is misguided and directed and will not make a difference to the anchors. They state that by trying to “muzzle” the media, they are doing exactly what the current dispensation would like them to do.

Of course, they and the trolls will continue to make merry on social media. As will the social media bots from the coalition opposition grouping, from the BJP social media punters and from the journos’ supporters running into millions.

Clearly, while the I.N.D.I.A boycott may end up being short lived for all purposes, it seems to have left an impact in the world of media.

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