The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has asked news channel Times Now to issue an apology and pay a fine for its reportage on the Jasleen Kaur case. The NBSA pointed out “Media howsoever bona fide its intentions are, cannot act as the judge, jury, prosecutor and investigator in regard to any matter pending before a court or under investigation. It should be kept in mind that the reputation or credibility of a person once lost, as a result of a sustained media campaign focus, can never be regained.””
For the uninitiated Jasleen Kaun was a roadside ruffian of the fairer gender with (unconfirmed) links with the Aam Aadmi Party. She shot to limelight when she alleged that a biker had spoken to her in an improper way near a traffic signal. She clicked his picture and circulated it on social media. The mainstream media, both electronic and print, went completely overboard covering this story. Times Now fondly addressed the alleged “assaulter” as the Delhi Molester. But by god’s grace, there was an eye-witness account and with his testimony, the version of Jasleen Kaur started falling apart. According to the eyewitness’s testimony, Jasleen Kaur took law into her own hands despite the presence of a policeman, and started directing traffic. She asked a biker to stop. The biker refused to comply and questioned her authority. Jasleen Kaur immediately clicked his picture and warned him of the power of the “Aam Aadmi” and of course Social Media. After due investigation, the molester turned out to be a harmless and hapless victim while our online activist turned out to be a bully. Jasleen Kaur went on to win a certificate of valor from Delhi’s part time CM and full time Don Quixote Shri Arvind Kejriwal. No one in the media or polity asked why didn’t she take a video? Anyone can click a picture and write a few words about it, No?
Anyway, coming back to the original topic. Media set up their parallel courts that they set up on every other issue which is a fundamental breach of the principles of fair trial and natural justice.
Times Now fast track court in Jasleen Kaur Case was a perfect example of calamitous and ridiculous journalism, when the media took over the role of a Magistrate.
Times Now Journalism in Jasleen Kaur case was a perfect example of Journalism which makes every speculative argument an allegation and every allegation a viral show.
And Times Now is not the only channel. NDTV came under the scanner of Union Information and Broadcasting ministry for running an interview with Yakub Memon’s lawyer who quoted examples from western nations where similar cases were pardoned. The panelist allowed him all the screen time in the world. Aaj Tak and ABP News were served notices because they thought it was prudent to run a telephonic conversation with Chhota Shakeel who went on to say that justice was not carried in the case of Yakub Memon. He also warned India of severe consequences.
Mainstream Media must understand that any viral story on social media with a couple of thousands of shares is not a news item. In fact in the era of twitter and Facebook Journalism, media organizations need to be doubly cautious of their accountability.