news Monday, May 11, 2015 - 05:30
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said his government will help “good” journalists who want to start a newspaper or a news channel. “The media keeps showing us in negative light…If some senior people come together and want to start a news channel or newspaper, the government will help them. We also want an honest media house which shows news,” he said during a Google hang out Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). We are curious. The man who ran away from his first term as Chief Minister only to be returned with a spectacular majority has always had a love-hate relationship with the media. In the beginning it was all love. Suddenly love vanished into thin air for a party that used to raise a controversy a day to keep focus on itself. In fact, the AAP was built up by some sections of the media which gave Kejriwal a carte blanche when it came to time and attention. Apparently there are no takers now. On a fairly regular basis, AAP leaders have accused each other of planting stories and conducting sting-operations on others including each other.  A few weeks ago Kejriwal asked people in Delhi to film people who could be involved in illegal activities thus turning everyone into a peeping tom. Apropos, the Delhi government has issue a circular to all departments of the Delhi government saying criminal defamation cases can be filed against any “defamatory” reporting on the Delhi government. We are reminded of that moment when Kejriwal, along with former comrade-in-arms Prashant Bhushan and others went to the Supreme Court against the criminal defamation law when Union Minister Nitin Gadkari sued him for defamation. As for journalism, yes, there is something called robust journalism. It is about reporting facts, commenting on them and questioning the government without fear or favour. It is about fact-checking, double checking with at least two independent sources. It is about leg work and finally it is about humility because at the end of all that work, there may not be a story. Journalism we believe is a public good that has to be publicly accountable and the first judge of that are the people of India, Delhi included, not politicians. Even if we were to take his proposal seriously for a moment, it means he is looking for journalists who will write or telecast what he wants, debate issues he deems important and target people without basis or facts. Is the dictator in the anarchist trying to come out? We are probably not the only ones who think Kejriwal wants to gag the media and doesn't’t quite know how to do it? We have a suggestion. We think he should take a leaf out of his colleagues in south India. Most televisions channels on this side of the Vindhyas  - also called south ke log in dilli - are owned by politicians who make no bones about it. Everybody knows and nobody cares. Surely the Chief Minister of Delhi must have other matters that need urgent attention. Media management cannot be on top of that list.    
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