Shouting is not reporting, FYI

Salman Khurshid
Image source: Deccan Chronicle

I watched Salman Khurshid’s begin his epic press conference to counter accusations that his trust had misappropriated Rs 71 Lakh granted to it by the Government for the distribution of aid to disabled people in Uttar Pradesh with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Oddly, by the end, I was more skeptical at the journalists than the minister.

Khurshid may be completely guilty of everything he is accused of or he may be completely innocent. He could also be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Whatever the case, he has the right to face his accusers in a civilized manner.

But instead, most of the conference was dominated by two sets of screaming journalists who behaved like out of control animals.

They apparently could not tolerate Khurshid’s reluctance to accept their allegations on face value and tearfully resign before moving with his wife to South America in shame.

Khurshid called out Aaj Tak and India Today by name and openly demanded that if the accusations that they leveled against him are proven to be false, then a probe must be made into their actions and the chief of India Today – Aroon Purie, must resign.

The sane reaction to that would be – That’s what Khurshid thought. Good for him. However we do not agree and we will happily prove our story against him!

Instead the reporters from those agencies in the press conference seemed stunned into insanity because someone dared to suggest that their story stand up to scrutiny.

If the media group is sure of its story, then they can stand firm behind their case – whether on television, among the people or even in a court of law. Their minions need not heckle and shout at the accused in a press conference, foaming at the mouth and shrieking.

If their question was not answered, they need not stop everyone else from asking any other questions by literally screaming at the top of their lungs.

For me personally the most eyebrows rising moment came when one of the outraged journalists screamed out ““Are you raising questions about our character?”

Among all the absolutely unprofessional and disgusting heckling, amid the childish tantrums and deafening screaming, this single moment is when the entire thing descended into a farce.

Khurshid had already filed a case specifically saying that integrity of the media group was suspect. He began the press conference by broadly questioning the standards of India Today and Aaj Tak and specifically attacking the character, motivation and ethics of Aroon Purie, editor in chief of India Today.

Dhushasan was less clear about what he was thinking when he began to strip Draupadi’s saree in open court.

Then why were these journos either surprised or angry? Why did they let themselves become a circus by completely losing all sense of self-control? Did they think that their character was beyond question?

The allegations of the media are not the last word on guilt, despite the reporters’ apparent confusion in understanding this basic principle of the Constitution.

I do not think any organization or person has the right to demand that their integrity not be questioned.

Everyone’s integrity, intentions and actions are questionable.

If the media has the right to expose Salman Khurshid’s misdeeds, then he has the right to defend himself and question those who are making allegations.

That may be a sour pill to swallow for those long used to sitting on a high horse, but if public debate and discourse is to continue, then this pill needs to be swallowed with a smile.

In this country, integrity is considered to be untouchable and no one ever likes to answer why his or her integrity should be considered untouchable.

This is part of our culture and it is both tiresome and silly and needs to end. Otherwise soon we will find ourselves walking down a path of madness, where the everyone is some sort of untouchable god passing screaming judgment on those below while mindlessly worshiping the integrity of whoever is above them.

The fourth estate, like everyone else, is not above scrutiny. And they are not infallible. After all, for all their vigor, they seem to have done a wonderful job of ensuring the public completely forgot Niraa Radia quite soon.

Mistakes can be made while reporting, so a little humility goes a long way.

We must move away from this idea that someone is guilty the minute whatever wild allegations are thrown out.

Why do we always like being led by the nose?

If so and so is saying it, then it MUST be true. And if it is not true then the accused MUST have tampered with the evidence and judges MUST be corrupt and the entire system MUST be broken. Because so and so says so and no dissenting word is allowed.

That may be the case. But it need not be the case as well. Let the facts, not screaming journalists, do the talking.

India needs its media, who do a spectacular job of exposing the evil that plagues our country. But the media’s job is to spread a story. Let them not try to become the last word on it.

Further Reading:

Images: Law minister Salman Khurshid loses cool

Khurshid willing for inquiry, says UP govt probing into ‘mysterious’ affidavit

Salman Khurshid controversy: UP police starts collecting documents

NBSA to probe allegations against Khurshid, India Today group: Katju

Arvind Kejriwal takes on Salman Khurshid again, presents counter proof

Salman Khurshid may destroy proofs if given 10 days: Arvind Kejriwal


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