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Friday, April 19, 2012

Updated on Saturday, April 30, 2012

Misuse of freedom of expression, bad journalism, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

The novelty of street board bulletin 'Nichhak' must be protected

"With the deadline of 18th April, 2012, given by the CPI Maoist party's Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC)  was over, a Maoist cadre, while speaking to a regional TV channel in Odisha, said that the fate of the abducted MLA Jhina Hikaka is to be decided in the Praja Court (People's Court) of the Maoists. Even though she didn't give any definite time about the Praja Court, many of the journalists engaged themselves in bad journalism by spreading self-assumed arguments in form of data and news just to prove their extra-ordinary ability of making news. The street board bulletin in Bhubnaeswar 'Nichhak' also seemed to be falling victim, at times, to such bad journalism practiced by some journalists."

UPDATE (Finally, it came out to be really bad journalism):

The apprehensions of the writer came true the very next day i.e., April 20, with the Maoists from their side denied to the news of holding a praja court on April 19 while mentioning that they (Maoists) were to hold it sometime by April 25, 2012.

It was on 25th that the representative of CPI-Maoist's AOB Zonal Committee confirmed that the Praja Court was held on 23rd and 24th of April wherein it was decided to release the MLA Jhina Hikaka on April 26.

MLA Jhina Hikaka was released on April 26 morning.

Basudev Mahapatra


While journalists stationed at Narayanpatna and Balipeta in Koraput to gather news about the praja court (People's Court) of the Maoists, where the abducted MLA was expected to be presented for trial, had no clue about the event till 1 PM today, the 19th April 2012, the street board bulletin 'Nichhak' - managed by a group of Bhubaneswar based journalists and photo-journalists - carried the news of Praja Court as already being started amidst armed Maoists and the abducted Laxmipur MLA of Odisha Jhina Hikaka of being produced for trial even before 11.00 AM in the morning.

As the news seemed to have no clue to justify the argument it held, it looked more like a rumour than a news. The piece was posted by Pramod Samantaray, a reporter of one of Odisha's most read vernacular daily, 'Samaja'.

When asked about the clues behind the argument and the genuineness of the piece posted by him, Pamod himself had no solid evidence or clue in support of his argument but was completely predictive on the basis of general assumptions. To support his claim, Pramod's only argument was that he had long experience of reporting in Koraput, a centre of Maoist movement, on what basis he assumed this and posted it on the street board bulletin. When said that such practice is completely vague and unethical in journalism, Pramod tried to justify his act of bad journalism saying that he knew that the fact placed in the piece was going to happen till evening. Citing at his long experience in reporting Maoist insurgency in Koraput, Pramod made repeated attempts to justify his predictive piece more like a beginner astrologer than a matured journalist.

Disapproving such predictive pieces being presented as news, senior Bhubaneswar based journalist Prafulla Das who has a reputation of reporting grass root issues and is believed to be a moral supporter of the off-beat initiative of 'Nichhak' said, 'there are chances that such predictive news may go wrong'. 'Nichhak' bears journalistic value as it is managed by journalists and photo-journalists and is exhibited at a point that acts as a joint for media persons, mainly newspaper journalists and photo-journalists.

While most pedestrians and passers-by read 'Nichhak', the one of its kind bulletin by the journalists loses its credibility because of such acts of over smartness by some journalists who, while making news, mostly rely on their assumption than pure information and post news of events much before they take place, that too in a definite present tense. In the urge of some journalists, to prove their extra-ordinary news making ability, the novel street board bulletin is just becoming an instrument for spreading bad journalism. This could be stopped, possibly, by attaching some kind of regulation or code for the content of the unique bulletin.

[Visit the following link to see how the writer was sabotaged by members from the fraternity and outside for expressing his concern.]

[Declaration: Basing upon response from some sensitive readers, the title of the piece was changed while remaining 100% transparent to the objective of the content. Earlier title was "Street Board Bulletin 'Nichhak' spreads Bad Journalism".]

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