The Editors Guild of India which is supposed to stand for press freedom and raise its voice to protect the fourth pillar of democracy is fast becoming an institution hampered by a rampant ideological bias which only stands with those who pander to the ideology propagated by the folks running Editors Guild. After months of silence as the Mumbai Police relentlessly pursued a witch hunt against Republic TV, the organisation finally came up with a statement where they allotted more space to hit out at Republic TV’s style of journalism rather than condemning Mumbai Police’s actions.
As if waking up from a slumber, Editors Guild finally after two weeks released a statement on Mumbai Police’s witch-hunt against Republic TV and its journalists as it condemned the FIR by Mumbai Police. While, the institution which is filled by leftists was “pained to see the unedifying spectacle of hundreds of FIRs being filed against journalists of Republic TV, which is under probe for allegedly manipulating TRPs and spreading discontent against Mumbai Police”, it chose to pontificate as it also claimed that, “right to free speech does not mean a license to promote hate speech”.
After initially writing a few lines condemning Mumbai Police, the Editors Guild then stoops to write long paragraphs chastising Republic TV’s style of journalism as it laments the media house’s coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput death case which can be read as an attempt to whitewash and justify Mumbai Police’s witch-hunt.
This is the joke of statement issued by @IndEditorsGuild on the intensified persecution of @republic. More space condemning republic than it does the police. Contrast this with their statement on Jihadi publication Kashmir Times. This will be remembered you irredeemable trash https://t.co/Eoa06KxaMS pic.twitter.com/syKy7STViF
— Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) October 26, 2020
The statement reads, “Besides the unsavoury details pertaining to the manipulation of TRPs, the Republic TV’s high-strung conduct during the unfortunate demise of film actor, Sushant Singh Rajput also raises issues about media credibility and the limits to reporting. The Mumbai High Court has pertinently asked the channel’s lawyer about harangue directed at actress Rhea Chakraborty. The High Court asked a question that must be addressed by all: “Is this part of investigative journalism? Asking the public about their opinion on who should be arrested?” Also, the bench wondered whether the channel in the name of investigative journalism was encroaching into the domain of the police. Similar reservations about its conduct have been expressed even by News Broadcaster’s Association (NBA) that disagrees with its reporting”.
At this stage of the letter, it would be understandable if a reader forgets that this was supposed to be a statement condemning Mumbai Police as it then asks Republic TV to “behave responsibly”.
The statement added, “These are important issues that should have been resolved long ago, but were allowed to fester. It is high time the channel behaves responsibly and not compromises the safety of its journalists as well as hurt the collective credibility of media. The police must ensure that its investigation does not hurt the channel’s journalists or makes any arrests. And that the investigation does not become a tool to suppress media rights”.
The fact that Editors Guild chose to allocate more space to condemning Republic TV in a letter which was supposed to hit out at Mumbai Police, reveals their true intentions and ideological bias. Compare this statement with the body’s statement on Kashmir Times and the bias becomes more glaring.
Perhaps not since Emergency has a media house been so viciously hounded by the state machinery. From Param Bir Singh blatantly lying in a press conference about the manipulation of TRPs to demanding all financial records since its inception in a matter of hours to filing multiple FIRs to ensure that Republic’s editorial team spends more time at Police station rather than the studio, Mumbai Police has spared no effort to break Arnab Goswami and Republic TV. Editors Guild conveniently chose to ignore the multiple sting operations by Republic TV which clearly reveal that the Maharashtra government is planning to jail Arnab and forcibly close down Republic TV by misusing state machinery.
The attempt at monkey-balancing by the Editors Guild may be down to two reasons: first is the body’s rampant ideological bias as it decidedly leans towards the left, while the other can be seen as an attempt to not earn the wrath of Supreme Leader Uddhav Thackeray as there is a huge price to pay if one dares utters a word against the state government or Shiv Sena for that matter.