Wednesday 25 May 2022
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‘Withdraw Times of India’s Press privileges’

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New Delhi — KN Govindacharya’s activist group Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan (RSA) has demanded withdrawal of all privileges from The Times of India (ToI) Group due to it as a member of the Press.

The Times of India has for long been on moral decline, RSA has said through a press release. The group has accused the leading newspaper of “lack of (a sense of) basic grammar at times, lack of syntax, and now a brazen disregard for what is considered decent in a civilised society for a so-called family newspaper and a media house of some repute”. That the intent is to just make as much money as possible, RSA says, is clear with the fine title of this tweet from the ToI Entertainment account: “OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show!”

The RSA has taken exception to the clarification issued by the newspaper through its feature, Dear Deepika, our point of view,” by Priya Gupta, where it wrote:

As one of the largest media houses in the world with interests in print, TV, radio and online, we approach each medium differently, as do our audiences. There isn’t a one-fits-all formula for either distributing or consuming content across various media.

On this issue, a meeting of the RSA was held in Delhi, chaired by Basavaraja Patil, national convenor of the group. The members present discussed the issues and concluded sarcastically that the clarification betrays the “exalted goals” of the ToI group. “Not to educate, edify, enlighten, but to titillate” is its motive, the RSA said.

“Page 3 and other ‘innovations’ in the news sphere, copied brazenly from the Western rags, with a certain celebration of a free-for-all attitude, page after page with (interviews with) people of little consequence to common man’s life and needs, importing mass culture from abroad, propagating stereotypes, is all they have done in the last decade and more,” the press release read.

“Since the purpose of the ToI group is to cater to a mass market, as the excerpt above shows, like the McDonalds — serving cold news in colder fashion — the Press Council of India needs to take a cognisance of this (matter) and withdraw all accreditations as a member of the Press from the ToI group,” the RSA demanded.

“The ToI has now reduced itself to a mere business group, meant to cater to the lowest denominator, to generate profits for the giant rusting machine that they are. The Government of India should revoke all privileges accorded to the business house ToI masquerading as a Press entity,” the group has written.

“All this with a brazen disregard for journalistic ethics, even less regard for decency and decorum as to how a supposedly revered, more than a century-and-a-half year old paper should behave in civil discourse!” is how Govindacharya’s outfit describes the media house. The RSA quotes this portion of The Times of India feature:

Deepika, just for the record, we do not zoom into a woman’s vagina or show her nipples. As a newspaper, we take every care to ensure that we pixelate them if they show up in a picture, but your cleavage is as sexy as Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘8-pack’ abs.

“What does this mean?” the RSA asked, adding, “That ToI does not zoom into a woman’s private parts explicitly makes it acceptable? Since when is that an argument? Instead of apologising for needlessly propagating a stupid video, the article goes on to say that the offending link and the picture was there for over a year and suddenly Deepika Padukone found it convenient to object. Is that not an argument similar to what perpetrators of crimes big or small against women shout from the rooftops?”

All that the actress asked for was some restraint in what should become news, according to the RSA. “She is an actress. And (the) ToI reporter in the article in question proceeds to provide general information on what Deepika, ‘the bad girl’ has been up to!” the outfit retorted.

PVSlamming the clarification further, the press release read: “Random photo shoots, covers from magazines, and other sources are put as evidence. Another way to grab those eyeballs and clicks! It must have taken a lot of effort to find and link these images. Poor journalist!”

The RSA has damned “the ToI group, with all the presence in various media at their command”, for consistently lowering the standards of journalism.

“Since the ToI group does not even make a pretence of being a Press organisation — but admits it’s business that is another source of entertainment — why should they not be treated as such by the Press Council of India, and why shouldn’t their membership from the Press Council be revoked, and the Government of India act speedily to withdraw all privileges and access to the TOI group?” the group has demanded.

National secretary of RSA PankajVidyarthi will take the lead on the issue and make efforts to ensure that media houses across the nation follow journalistic ethics. The press release ends with the ‘expectation’ that the management of the Times of India group would apologise for its “irresponsible and vulgar article”.

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Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sirf News Surajit Dasgupta has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life, the first national affairs editor of Swarajya, executive editor of Hindusthan Samachar and desk head of MyNation

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