Ranjona Banerji: Basic journalism anyone?

11 May,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji

 

Two video clips from yesterday dominated social media. The first was a supposed clip from Sky News which lambasted Indian foreign minister Dr S Jaishankar for not only arriving in the UK with a delegation which included two people who tested Covid-19 positive but for then flouting self-isolation protocols.

 

As the video did the rounds, many pointed out that parts of the clip had been spliced and therefore it was not wholly genuine.

https://www.altnews.in/misleading-video-portrays-eam-jaishankar-meeting-g7-delegates-after-covid-scare/?utm_source=website&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=newrepost

 

While this factcheck by Alt News explains some of what happened really and what was fake, some problems remain.

 

The first is that members of the delegation did test positive after arriving in a foreign country. The second is that self-isolation rules were not followed, as per photographs put out by the foreign minister himself. The third is that basic Covid-19 protocols were not followed either because one photograph put out by the foreign minister, where he and another person are not wearing masks at a meeting.

 

https://news.sky.com/story/two-covid-cases-among-indian-delegation-at-london-g7-meeting-sky-news-understands-12297266

 

The embarrassment to India is deep. Although of course, this embarrassment is nothing compared to the horror that faces India everyday when it comes to Covid deaths and severe lack of governance.

 

The other clip is a press conference held by Bangalore BJP MP Tejasvi Surya. He was recently in the news for entering a Bangalore municipality Covid monitoring room, reading out the names of 17 Muslims employed there, questioning their qualifications, which led to them being suspended and questioned in a “bed-blocking” scam.

https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/sweet-seventeen/articleshow/82506414.cms

 

Later, Surya was questioned by members of the press.

https://scroll.in/video/994612/watch-bjps-tejasvi-surya-fails-to-answer-tough-questions-from-journalists-on-covid-war-room-remark

 

The strength of the questions and the MP’s inability to answer are being held up as examples of good journalism. Actually, these questions are just examples of basic journalism, which sadly has been forgotten in these days of selfies and hagiography.

 

And Surya is small fry in the course of India’s life right now.

 

The people who need to be questioned are hiding away in bunkers. The Prime Minister has not held a press conference in India for seven years. Although many of India’s most well-known editors and anchors (cannot call them journalists) have proudly flaunted the selfies they have taken with the PM.

 

Most Union ministers are Twitter warriors, defending BJP trolls and taking on members of the public who criticise their government. If you just followed some handles, you would not even know that India was in the grip of a massive second wave of Covid19.

 

Let’s see a few press conference clips with Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the current vaccine and oxygen shortages so that they acknowledge that life as a Union minister is not just about planning elections and buying members of the Opposition. Let’s see a few press conference clips with UP chief minister Ajay Bisht about his state’s acute health shortages and dead bodies floating down the Yamuna. Let’s see a few press conference clips with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar about his state’s high and hidden Covid numbers and dead bodies floating down the Ganga. Let’s see a few press conference clips with Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat on whether holding the Kumbh Mela was a good idea after all, given how Uttarakhand is struggling with Covid right now.

 

All these are fantasy press conferences of course.

 

Instead, we have the prime minister asking for “positivity” stories for his next monthly blabber. Covid? What Covid?

 

Looking forward to more excuses for the PM’s complete lack of government, governance and responsibility from our editors and anchors. And lies from the government affectionately amplified of course.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal.

 

 

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