March 27, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: An investigative media network, Cobrapost has released a series of sting operations showing that senior employees of 17 media outlets in the Indian subcontinent had agreed to push polarising stories for money when they were approached by an undercover journalist.
The video of the sting operations are released purportedly showed that representatives of many of these media companies were willing to accept cash, and not raise a bill for that amount. Some of the major media outlets named in the sting operation include DNA, Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, India TV and ScoopWhoop.
“The investigation was called Operation 136 by Cobrapost, in reference to India being ranked 136th on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, 2017. Journalist Pushp Sharma posed as Acharya Atal, who introduced himself in some of the meetings as belonging to an Ashram in Ujjain and in others as representing some Shrimad Bhagvad Gita Prachar Samiti” notes a report in The Indian Express.
The videos that are posted on the website of Cobrapost as well as on the outlet’s YouTube Channel show that the employees of the 17 media companies agreed to push Acharya Atal’s “soft Hindutva” agenda, and closer to the upcoming general elections, many of them are seen willing to run content that would have shown Opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, and BJP’s Arun Jaitley, Manoj Sinha, Jayant Sinha, Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi in a negative light.
Most of the media representatives the undercover journalist met were either owners of regional news outlets, or worked as senior executives on the business-side of the media companies.
The other media organisations named in the sting operation include Sadhana Prime, Punjab Kesari, UNI News, 9X Tashan, Samachar Plus, Aj Hindi Daily, Swatantra Bharat, India Watch, HNN 24X7, Rediff.com, SAB TV, Hindi Khabar. The Indian Express tried to reach out to most of them through text messages or calls to mobile phones of senior executives, or through emails.
Meanwhile, as per media reports some of the outlets covered by the Cobrapost sting have responded the expose. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Editor of Dainik Jagran and CEO of Jagran Prakashan Limited, have reportedly denied the allegations and said Sanjay Pratap Singh, Area Manager of Dainik Jagran for Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, had no authority to make the claims he is seen making in the video.
According to The Indian Express (IE), Sudipto Chowdhery, President, Sales, of India TV called the video “doctored” and “edited” and said “none” of the “proposals discussed or put forward” by the undercover reporter were accepted, and “were in fact entirely turned down by the editorial and legal teams of India TV”.
Aniruddha Bahal, the Editor-in-Chief of Cobrapost, said this was the first part of a two-part series. The second part of the investigation will be released soon, he said.
VIDEOS RELEASED BY THE COBRAPOST:
Video Source: Cobrapost’s YouTube Channel