Ranjona Banerji: How media covered #NotInMyName protests​

30 Jun,2017

​By Ranjona Banerji​


A good journalistic test for all media was how the #NotInMyName protests across 16 cities in India and four worldwide held on Wednesday were covered. The protests by citizens of India unaffiliated to political parties were against the recent spate of incidences of mob violence, usually against Muslims and Dalits and usually in the name of cow protection.

NDTV carried news of the protests all Wednesday evening. After a while, so did CNN-News 18. India Today TV also touched upon it. Times Now decided finally that they too had to cover it but from a patriotic point of view of course, unlike all other anti-national media. Republic TV was on a rerun of a sweet little interview between a simpering Arnab Goswami and a smug Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh where both participants were confident that a superb job was being done.

Times Now’s pitch was genuinely unique. First they decided that only anti-nationals would carry such a protest in Karachi, proving that those against mob violence were traitors. Then they found that in the London protest at Tavistock Square, someone had placed a “Not in my name” placard on the statue of Mahatma Gandhi there. This according to Times Now was “desecration”. Presumably in their little ill-informed minds, a Gandhi statue is a religious idol and two, and this is significant, Gandhi would have been for mob violence in the name of the cow.

By Thursday, Times Now had decided that this was a “JNU conspiracy” carried out in London to desecrate a Gandhi statue. I leave you to ponder on the absurdity of journalists who will not cover a protest in their own country but pick on some irrelevant angle in a foreign land. The only other prominent person who appeared to see a “foreign hand” ready to defame India in these protests was Professor Rakesh Sinha of the RSS and Delhi University and many TV channels, who generally blamed “the West”.

As it happens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi apparently took the protests more seriously than them and spoke out against mob violence and murder in the name of the cow at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. This left some egg on some pro-BJP faces which had spent all of Wednesday on social media mocking the protests. Swapan Dasgputa, once a journalist, now a columnist and director of Larsen and Toubro, for instance, tweeted that this protest was “of the media, for the media and by the media” in spite of there being no evidence to prove this.

Anand Ranganathan who writes for Newslaundry.c​om spent all week compiling statistics to prove that mob violence was nothing new and that Muslims and Dalits were not the only ones targeted. IndiaSpend countered this research with data-based facts but by then the damage was done and Ranganathan’s research was gospel for the agenda-driven, being quoted by the ABVP and by Vikram Sampath on NDTV.

R Jagganathan of Swarajya questioned the protests on Wednesday and heavily praised the prime minister’s speech on Thursday.

These are just some examples and of those who work in the larger media universe. Other BJP spokespersons on Twitter, self-appointed or otherwise, were a bit stumped by Modi until they were forced to erupt in praise.

The rest of the media pointed out that hours after the prime minister’s remarks against such violence, a man – Usman – was beaten up by a mob in Jharkhand and his house set on fire over a dead cow. Perhaps they do not watch TV all day in Jharkhand.

Newspapers, being anti-national, covered the protests.


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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: How media covered #NotInMyName protests​”

  1. ashok759 says:

    They must have been watching Arnab’s interview in Jharkhand.