Journalists face a dilemma while covering elections whether elections of local bodies assembly or parliamentary elections.Few years back, local TV stations had done a commendable job of covering Kolkata civic election marred by sporadic violence and malpractices. Live video footage clearly showed that that ruling TMC activists prevented voters and opposition leaders to enter polling booths while their leaders and supporters allowed to roam around.They openly helped voters to cast their votes in favor of party candidates as police personnel looked the other way.
Even the media persons were not spared.They were threatened and abused by TMC leaders and party workers when they rushed to cover the news of booth capturing and violence. The journalists of ABP Ananda a solid number one TV station in Kolkata were openly threatened with dire consequence. An assistant commissioner of police abused a reporter of the same TV station on camera when he asked some ‘uneasy’ questions to him.
Tensions ran high in major booths and a policeman was severely injured. Despite sporadic violence and allegation of ‘calculated booth capturing’, TMC leaders were unfazed and termed the allegations as baseless. Actually, political leaders don’t have the habit to hear criticism and often ignore the fact that Media is the fourth pillar of democracy due to important role it plays in shaping public opinion.
Politicians should remember that journalists have the right to act as eyes and ears of the public.In Indian democracy, to win an election by hook or crook is more important than good governance. Hostile attitudes towards media is a dangerous and alarming trend. Polarization even in media, saddens us the most. Party aligned media’s partisan and biased reporting often misled the public and populist political leaders across the world including India have the habit to termed renowned media outlets as fake news when they dislike any news or simply say we don’t allocate lands to certain media group so they are now against us and the public wholeheartedly believes their ‘beloved’ leaders.
American President Donald Trump openly said on various occasions that “CNN is fake news, I don’t take questions from CNN” and prefers Fox News because the network believes that the president can do no wrong. The reality is no one like to hear the truth!