Voices Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | March 23, 2014 | 7.10 am IST The News Minute Exclusive Over the last few weeks, Arvind Kejriwal and the other leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party have sharpened their attack on the media, with Kejriwal even threatening to jail media who are on Modi's payrolls. Though the Aam Aadmi party has not given tangible proof to substantiate their allegations, they have still been consistent with their attack on the media. Continuing with its assault on the media, on March 19, the Aam Aadmi Party Mumbai page put up a post alleging that The Times of India was “biased” in its coverage of the AAP in comparison to its coverage of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The post contained an image of three photographs – a front page advertisement of Narendra Modi by the BJP that appeared on the newspaper’s March 19, 2014 edition. According to the AAP post, a full page advertisement in the Times of India costs over RS. 74 lakh. The other two images were of the Times of India reports published on its website. One report was on Arvind Kejriwal’s Mumbai rally, and other, on the mishap during BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s roadshow in Amritsar. Using the image, the AAP said that the situation in Mumbai during Kejriwal’s visit was described as “chaos”. In contrast, the incident in Amritsar during senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's road show, in which helium balloons caught fire and mildly injured Jaitley and two others, was described as a “minor mishap”. The post then states: “With such a huge amount of money coming from political parties can we expect media to report with integrity?” The post then outlines this incident as a "case study". The News Minute contacted Executive Editor at The Times of India Arindam Sengupta. Mr Sengupta was unaware of the Facebook post and eventually contacted Preeti Sharma Menon, AAP spokesman and state secretary, Maharashtra. Preeti Menon, then apologised to The Times of India for an “oversight.” In a communication to the Times of India, Preeti Sharma Menon said that the post was not the official communication of the party, but a "contribution by supporters that was posted on the Mumbai district page". She also says that she would ensure that in future, "posts with unsubstantiated claims to do not find their way to our pages. I apologize for the same and request you to please understand that it was zealous oversight by supporters of a party in the making. We will ensure no such thing happens again." Reacting to the AAP's apology, Arindam Sengupta says: “Let me reiterate that TOI goes with the news, without fear or favour. We will support any party that does good and will be critical of any that does not do the right thing.” Asked whether the removal was not contradictory to the AAP’s actions in the past where the party had 'relentlessly' gone ahead with allegations, sometimes without proof, Preethi Menon told The News Minute that in past cases the party had filed complaints with the Election Commission. She confirmed to The News Minute that while it was the official page of the Mumbai district, the post had been created by “over-zealous supporters” of the party. She was the only person who was authorised to make any statements to the media in Maharashtra. Preethi Menon says that she immediately removed the post when it was brought to her attention by representatives of The Times of India, who were “disturbed” by the post. She added that The Times Group were not planning to initiate legal action against the AAP. The Facebook post done at 5.30 pm on March 19, had been shared 1,472 times and had a few hundred comments until the next day. The comments span all views: some were rather vociferous and long-winded in expressing their disillusionment with the AAP and accused the party of letting people down, one Facebook user said he was going to “boycott” the paper, another said that she had been following debates on news channels and felt that the media have been unfair to the AAP. This incident however raises a pertinent question. There are many allegations flying thick and fast. If confronted, will there be an apology each time or will the AAP stick to its stand? Statement by Preeti Sharma Menon, State Secretary and Spokesperson, Aam Aadmi Party Maharashtra to the Times of India. It has just been brought to my notice that there is a post on the Mumbai FB Page which refers to Times of India’s coverage of AAP and it seems to allude that there are biases in coverage. We apologize for that post and state that it is not the official communication of Aam Aadmi Party, Maharashtra but a contribution by supporters that was posted on the Mumbai district page. I am the only authorized person who makes statements on the party’s stance and it is made public via a press release. I have not made any such statement on behalf of the party that accuses Times of India Group of any biases, nor has that been done by anyone in the state leadership. I apologise for the oversight in not seeing the post which questions the ability of media houses to be unbiased in the face of such huge advertisement revenues at stake, and has used a Times of India advertisement to illustrate the point without having any substantial co-relation. I have removed it immediately and will ensure that posts with unsubstantiated claims do not find their way to our official pages. I apologize for the same and request you to please understand that it was zealous oversight by supporters of a party in the making. We will ensure no such thing happens again. SincerelyPreeti Sharma MenonState Secretary & SpokespersonAam Aadmi Party Maharashtra The post by Aam Aadmi Party Maharashtra, which appeared on March 19, 2014 Recently Aam Aadmi Party has come under a lot of fire over Arvind's criticism of certain Media houses. Today we would like to highlight a case that will shed some light as to why we criticise some media houses. Today, March 19, 2014 Mumbai edition of Times of India newspaper carried a full front page advertisement of Mr. Narendra Modi. On checking the website of Times of India we found that a full front page advertisement in mumbai edition costs ₹ 7,464,600. Yes 74 lakhs. This figure can be verified from TOI website here.http://timesofindia.releasemyad.com/display-ad/times-of-india With such a huge amount of money coming from political parties can we expect media to report with integrity? A case study we can mention here is the recent reports by TOI on problems during Arvind's visit to Mumbai and Problems during Arun Jaitley's rally in Amritsar. Problems with our rally were described as 'Chaos' and with BJP rally as 'Minor mishap'. Problems with our rally were described as 'Chaos' and with BJP rally as 'Minor mishap'. We condemn this biased reporting by Times of India group and believe that we all need to work towards bringing more transparency to the funding and revenue sources of Media Houses so that the rot in fourth pillar of democracy can be cleaned. Jai hind.

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