Making and unmaking news: Bangalore Mirror’s time of SHAME
Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, popularly known as Times Group owned Bangalore Mirror on January 2 published a report with a sensational tone that female revellers were mass molested during New Year’s eve at M G Road and Brigade Road. The publication termed the incident ‘Bengaluru’s night of shame’ allegedly tarnishing the image of pub capital. Later it was picked up by the Times Now, another leading news broadcaster from the same group.
The report however lacked legal and reporting maturity as the author of the story did not bothered to use much needed word – alleged. The report said “When it comes to the safety of women, Bengaluru is no better than Delhi, and Saturday night was its final confirmation. Anarchy prevailed on the streets after 11 pm as revellers gathered in the heart of the city – MG Road and Brigade Road – to welcome the New Year. But despite “elaborate” security arrangements, women were molested, and children scared out of their wits, while male friends and relatives had a tough time protecting them from unruly men. And all this happened despite the 1,500 policemen deployed in the area.”
It is naive to write such report when there was no official confirmation on alleged molestation from the Bengaluru City Police. Calling massive commotion and alleged stray incidents of molestation while welcoming New Year as mass molestation only exposes understanding of news reporting. Bangalore Mirror, a popular tabloid (now it turned in to broadsheet) of Bengaluru allegedly got it wrong when it insisted it was mass molestation and compared it to Delhi.
On January 15, Times of India’s report contradicted its own sister publication Bangalore Mirror. The author of this report raised apprehensions on occurrence of such incident. The lead of the story start like this – For nearly 30 years, crowds have gathered in Bengaluru’s MG Road-Brigade Road Junction to ring in the New Year. This New Year’s Eve, though, was different. The media, and social media, claimed that it was a “night of shame”for the city as the mobs went wild and molested women in their midst.
This report quoted an unnamed TV journalist who was present during the event. “There was no mass physical molestation” was what a TV journalist blogged. On the other hand captures gathered to corroborate and identify suspects in the incident from 40 surveillance cameras shown nothing and Bengaluru City Police Commissioner repeatedly said there was no mass molestation happened at heart of the city.
Former legal advisor to Karnataka Chief Minister C M Siddaramaiah, Brijesh Kalappa posting Times of India report on his FB wall questioned the media on its reportage of New Year’s alleged unpleasant. Talking to Samachara he said Bengaluru Mirror is a less credible paper as it practices yellow journalism.
“Bangalore Mirror picked up the issue then Times Now blew the issue out of proportion. Later other media fell for this and continued shame saga,” Brijesh said. He added media guys most of the times fall prey for these kinds of sensational reports because they do not use their brains.
However, he politically speaking found a different angle to it. Attempt to deface the image of Bengaluru ahead of government organised large-scale programs is not first. If you observe, on January 8 Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas was scheduled and this seems spoiling the image allegedly on behalf of few vested interests. Last time ahead of Global Investment Meet, Tanzanian girl strip case was brought to fore and blown out of proportion. It looks like there is a pattern to it, he observed.
Fairly looking at two reports published by Bangalore Mirror and Times of India; one argues other counters. It appears as if publications resorting to subtle business strategy of selling content. Molestation and way it was shown and reported in Bangalore Mirror is sleazy and sleaze sells and it sells like hot cake. Rather low tone Times of India counter-argues and allegedly reports government narrative to balance it.
And, very importantly that’s how the dirty trick department works – making and unmaking of news.