Journalism should be driven by ethics and principles rather than agenda, says Vivek Surendran
A press briefing by Shashi Tharoor outside his residence on Tuesday went awry after a Republic TV reporter continually interrupted the Congress MP, provoking the latter to invite the reporter onto the stage. When repeatedly interrupted by reporter Aditya Raj Kaul, Tharoor addressed him by saying, “Please, please take over. Why don’t you come here and speak?” A closer examination of the video clip of Tharoor’s statement reveals that the reporter in question sought to evoke a reaction from the Congress MP.
Here are a few questions viewers should be asking themselves:
Did Shashi Tharoor intentionally manhandled the journalist?
Did the journalist intentionally provoke Shashi Tharoor to get some attention?
An insightful Twitter thread by Vivek Surendran, a journalist, will offer more insight into the incident and how you should really interpret the whole affair as a viewer.
Morning. Day has to start with a rant. I’ve not been a journalist for more than 2 years now and I don’t have a certificate to prove I’m on.
But there are principles and ethics I’ve learnt from my seniors, subordinates and junior colleagues who are trained journalists. Apart from those, there are basic values I carry as a human being and certain rights and duties I exercise as an Indian citizen.
There have been much spoken about the launch of Arnab’s new channel, a channel with an agenda, agenda of being nationalist. From the BJP MP funding the channel forcing @thewire_in to take down an article to @republic HRs hiring only right-leaning journalists…And trying to lure liberals into working for the channel asking them to ‘compromise’ their unbiased nature. Everything about the channel and how they operate and how Arnab is planning to run it is out there. After the supposed exposè on the third day since the launch with #sunandamurdertapes Arnab and his channel resorted to much drama on screen.
I remember watching all the 11 tapes carefully and realising there is nothing solid it provided. I also thought the parts were they chose…To write (unclear voice) was on purpose. Then came the channel’s vigilante-like proclamation that they’ve put journalists outside Lalu’s, Kejriwal’s and Tharoor’s houses. Funniest was @ShashiTharoor debunking channel’s claim that he’s left for an undisclosed location. And a ‘supposed’ journalist resorting to chest thumping that the last time he stood outside a politician’s house the leader had to resign.
Shashi Tharoor who had decided to address the media knew the channel’s journalists will also be there. Theatrics got worse when the channel and the journalist @AdityaRajKaul decided to project that he was “manhandled, punched in the face”. They released a footage too. If you watch the footage @republic released, it looks like their reporter was dragged behind.
And I condemn any attack on journalists. I also condemn police attacking people who have gathered for a peaceful protest. But as someone who saw what happens there in real, while taking part in a candlelight vigil for Nirbhaya in Dec 2012, I saw so-called peaceful protestors abuse policemen left, right and centre knowing they won’t retaliate and I remember very clearly how the cops requested not to abuse their family members and saying they’re all for the cause people were protesting for but these people wouldn’t stop. Police charged when these people started throwing plastic bottles (with water) at the cops and dude, it hurts. The news broke saying police charged at peaceful protestors and that’s how media say is.
I narrated the story to draw a comparison. You cannot expect Tharoor to be ‘okay’ with a channel and its reporters who have been targeting him for over 24 hours on their channel and social media. But he sure knew a reporter would be there.
If you see @BuzzFeedIndia’s article which has the video showing the entire scene, you’d see how @AdityaRajKaul was interrupting the MP while giving his statement. Tharoor continued to speak ignoring the interruption but the republic journalist kept speaking. Shashi Tharoor pulls him by his hand and asks him to address the media instead of him. As a fellow journalist I condemn Tharoor pulling @AdityaRajKaul by his hand, but I also understand how he forced Tharoor into it.
Journalist goes “why are you harassing me like this? Why are you manhandling me?” momentarily disrupting Tharoor’s media address. Tharoor says, “I’m offering you a platform” and “this is now going to be a story” and that happen.
A reporter from a channel with an agenda deliberately interrupting someone while speaking to the media, when all other professional journalists were listening, could be seen.
Remember he is the same man who said if tying a human being in front of an Army jeep means less stones being pelted, so be it, reproducing his master’s, boss’s voice and opinion, which is equally tragic when it comes from journalists. He’s the same journalist, like his boss, who tries to tag @UmarKhalidJNU a terrorist by giving half information on Twitter saying “Umar’s father was the chief of SIMI”, hiding the fact that Umar’s father was with SIMI when it wasn’t banned not radicalized and using the dirty “chor ka beta chor” theory.
In the video released by Republic, the cameraman, possibly purposely, turns it away from what’s happening and people could be heard saying,”what is he doing? Other people are recording.” In the video, ironically from Asianet News that’s also funded by the same BJP MP, Kaul is seen being pushed behind by Tharoor’s men and the leader saying “let it be let it be” and a man in white shirt covering Kaul’s mic.
.@thewire_in @republic @ShashiTharoor @AdityaRajKaul @BuzzFeedIndia @UmarKhalidJNU seen being pushed behind by Tharoor’s men and the leader saying “let it be let it be” and a man in white shirt covering Kaul’s mic. pic.twitter.com/UeWZKDdAZz
— Vivek Surendran (@ivivek_nambiar) May 10, 2017
I strongly condemn that act and believe it’s against freedom of press. However, it’s tough to believe Tharoor “asked” his men to do this.
I’d end this rather long rant saying if police can charge at people after they provoke them with abuse and physical assault, if in Kashmir, pellet guns could be used giving provocation as the reason, if journalists aren’t professional enough they can’t complain for being silenced.
— Vivek Surendran (@ivivek_nambiar) May 10, 2017