In a show of solidarity, journalists belonging to TV channels in Chennai chose to walk out of a press conference by politician Jignesh Mevani. This after the MLA from Gujarat chose to single out Republic TV’s reporter, asking him to leave his briefing.
On Tuesday, the Vadgam MLA was participating in an interaction with academics, activists and students in Qaid-E-millat International Academy of Media Studies in Chennai. Following the two-hour interaction, a media briefing was organised with Jignesh.
It was when journalists from television channels placed their microphones on the table that Jignesh, on seeing the Republic TV’s mic, asked who the channel’s reporter is. “Who is the Republic TV’s reporter? I won’t talk to Republic,” Jignesh reportedly said. While journalists from the other channels attempted to pacify the political leader, stating that it was only a “general bite” and not an exclusive interview, Jignesh stated that it was his policy not to speak to Republic TV, the channel led by Arnab Goswami.
“I won’t answer questions. Remove the mic,” Jignesh told journalists in the room. It was then that Shabbir Ahmed, a reporter from Times Now replied, “You can’t demand that (which mic should be there and which should not). We don’t want this press conference, you can go.”
With other journalists coming together to show support for Republic TV’s reporter, the press briefing ended with Jignesh not taking any questions.
The show of support by the otherwise competitive news media has been commended by journalists on Twitter.
Dear Chennai media, thanks for standing united against Jignesh Mevani. High time that activists and politicians stop dictating terms at press conferences, selectively humiliating field reporters for the supposed sins of their masters. @Ahmedshabbir20 @dhanyarajendran https://t.co/vzxlC9Vdt0— Chandra R. Srikanth (@chandrarsrikant) January 16, 2018
One has rights to ignore a question during a press conference if he/she doesn't like it, But they don't have rights to order a channel to leave the place itself @jigneshmevani80 & thanks for all Chennai journos who stood for solidarity! @Ahmedshabbir20 @Lokpria @nimumurali— Sanjeevee sadagopan (@sanjusadagopan) January 16, 2018
#JigneshMevani refuses to speak @republic in #Chennai. Rest of the media shows the way, boycotts him. Great unity shown by media. @Ahmedshabbir20 @Mugilan__C @Lokpria @Priyamvathap @imanojprabakar @Akshayanath @sanjusadagopan— Pooja Prasanna (@PoojaPrasanna4) January 16, 2018
Jignesh's opposition to Republic TV is in reaction to the Gujarat Assembly Elections, where the channel targetted him for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi old and suggesting that he go to the Himalayas. Many came out in support of Jignesh's stand, arguing that people like Mevani had no other choice but to boycott channels like Republic TV.
Dear Friends from media, please understand that Republic-chhaap yellow journalism gives a bad name to The Press. They're costing the media fraternity all the respect that brave journalists in this country have earned over decades with their hardwork and integrity.— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) January 16, 2018
Republic TV has to earn respect for itself. No one is going to do it for them. They chase people down the street, heckle people, abuse them on their TV show, defame leaders like Jignesh who do not have the means to file defamation cases. They act as mercenaries for the regime.— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) January 16, 2018
Jignesh has every right to ask @republic which is spewing venom against him to leave. If you want to show solidarity with Republic, fine. Jignesh needs to respect media, no doubt. But, Republic is not media but paid mercenary of BJP & they deserve such treatment— Savukku_Shankar (@savukku) January 16, 2018
Just as free speech cannot be a cover for hate speech, press freedom is not the freedom to violate norms. Have journalists, press collectively condemned violation of these self-regulation norms by Republic, Times Now, Zee?https://t.co/YhXg8IsLnA— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 16, 2018
Media, Chennai media, you've to do better. You have to take a stand against unethical practices of rogue, propaganda TV channels. You can't remain silent on their misuse of power, & then band together with them against their victims +— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 16, 2018
Tuesday isn’t the first time that reporters belonging to Republic TV have been boycotted. In December, reporters belonging to Times Now and Republic TV were banned from the Congress party’s press conference in New Delhi. This as the channels were engaging in an alleged witch-hunt against Congress President Rahul Gandhi, and the UPA.