In a matter of two months, Sushant Singh Rajput's death has been turned into an unfortunate circus. Broadcast channels, every single day, are breaking their self-set records of stooping lower in their reporting of the actor's death case. Journalist-anchor Navika Kumar displayed "exclusive" pictures of Rajput's dead body on her news channel, Times Now on 27th August, at prime time for the national audience to see.
With an obnoxious, sensationalist headline in all caps, the channel's official handle tweeted yesterday, "#Exclusive | NEVER SEEN BEFORE PICTURES OF SUSHANT'S BODY: Navika Kumar accesses 2 pictures of Sushant's body taken by his sister." Attached to it was a redundant, statutory warning that read, "DISCLAIMER: Viewer discretion advised" The tweet has since been removed though it's not clear whether the channel removed it or twitter.
Does Media Really Care About Getting Justice For Sushant?
Times Now, the channel Navika Kumar works for, received a lot of flak from August 27, 2020 for running this story. Our media through their 'gold standards' of journalism are throwing up new angles in Rajput's death case every single day. And in a manner that disrespects the field of reporting and credible media behaviour.
Why is no one raising a voice against the gross disrespect of his body that was initiated yesterday? As a country we were okay to slam channels who featured Rhea Chakraborty - who is currently facing inquiry by the CBI in Rajput’s death investigation - when she appeared to demand justice for herself?
Does Anyone Deserve A Media Trial?
For a certain brand of journalism, it didn't end at showing Rajput's dead body. On the big screen inside her studio, Kumar publicly displayed Rhea Chakraborty's WhatsApp chats, citing a "drug conspiracy." And two days ago, in a program August 26, 2020 "Drugs, Destruction & Dhoka," she proceeded to showcase another set of chats that sought to "nail Team Rhea," along with an incriminating hashtag that read "#IndiaForRheaArrest."
Does Chakraborty, or anyone for that matter, deserve to have a media trial? Sushant Singh died by suicide and his parents have allegedly charged Chakraborty with “abetment to suicide” of his son, and her family of laundering money from his account. The government recently approved a CBI investigation into the matter.
But while the probe is on, just how are journalists taking the liberty to "nail" people prior to the official investigative agencies arriving at a conclusion? Why are people not rallying against this blatant transgression of objectivity and reporting - the topmost tenets of journalism? Moreover, where are some journalists deriving their power from, to declare for someone's arrest by playing detective from her studio?
TV Anchors Talk Because We Listen. So Who's Responsible?
They talk because we listen. So are they the ones who are voyeuristic or are they only satiating our voyeurism? Don't some journalists draw power from the audience that hungrily awaits high-octane drama on Rajput's death every day? Aren't we all culpable?
What Precedent Are We Setting For Young Journalists?
Remember that iconic interview from March with Saif Ali Khan, where a journalist, with inexpressible adulation, had asked him for a "glimpse" of his kid, Taimur, asking if he could "give a flying kiss to our viewers or just say bye to them" to "cheer them" up? Unfortunately for television, the request could not be fulfilled because little Taimur was in the potty. No one but Saif Ali Khan alone knows whether Taimur was really in the potty that day or not, but five months later, everyone knows that that's where much of our journalism is today.
According to Newslaundry, in February 2020, Kumar was appointed the Times Network Group Editor for Politics, with the responsibility of "political reporting strategy." And while that is a commendable feat for a woman journalist - to brush up against men in this cutthroat field - could her journalism possibly be an inspiration for young women who want to be journalists? That remains to be seen.
As a journalist, it saddens me to see the impression some mediapersons are setting about our field to the young minds who aspire to enter it. It's a disgrace to the craft of professional journalism and its integrity must be questioned by all. And the only way to counter it would be for you to join the field and keep at your own honest, impartial, and fearless pursuit of truth.
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