The Indian Express (army coup rumor) trial is still on….




Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi , a former Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) and former Founder Director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) writes in DNA:

One flew over the coup-coup’s nest

Ever since the Chief raised the issue of his wrongly recorded date of birth, some Ministry of Defence (MoD) bureaucrats have become the conduits of perverse and hair-brained leaks that are being fed to the media. The plan is to first put down the Chief and the army, and then through a denial of those leaks, to show how good they, the bureaucrats, really are. This is warped thinking at its worst. Recently, one of the national newspapers reached the height of absurdity and published a so-called scoop with a banner headline, giving a perverse twist to a routine event, news which practically all newspapers and TV news channels had carried in January this year when the event had actually occurred. A simple training exercise for testing the ability of a few army units to move in the fog of north Indian winters has now taken sinister tones in their view. The newspaper has virtually accused the army, and hence the Chief, of plotting the overthrow of the government. I always thought that it was the likes of John le Carréacute; and other fiction writers who wrote mystery plots, but now we have these journalists and mediapersons beating writers of fiction at their own game.

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Judicial inquiry sought into ‘army movement’ reports

Nutan Thakur, convener National RTI Forum, Lucknow has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Lucknow Bench of theAllahabad High Court, seeking directions for the prime minister office to form a high level judicial inquiry commission to probe veracity of the reports published in newspapers regarding movement of two army units towards Delhi. Thakur in her PIL has said that

news presented the army movement as if it was an coup attempt. High Court may order to keep inquiry report a secret as the matter is related to national security. And, in case it is found that the news was false, strict legal action should be taken against the newspapers. The news about senior union minister planting false news to get the army chief removed is another serious matter, which needs a thorough probe and action if found to be true. But in case, the news on minister is found incorrect, legal action should be taken against this newspaper.


Media means accuracy: Getting the news and getting it perfectly well

DR. FAROOQ AHMAD PEER writes in his column Media-watch, about the army coup episode, though not directly firing at Indian Express:

It is discerned that among the same media there are some who resort to yellow journalism while presenting information, rectification and coverage whenever they feel disfavoured. The news may be simple but is presented in such a manner that it seems really something extraordinary and astonishing which misleads the public. What has not actually happened is presented in an exciting manner and what has not been uttered by somebody or conveyed is printed for the sake of making news without waiting for the logical conclusion. There is a great deal of misinformation floating and here the accuracy of the profession of media is lost. ….The delinquency and misdemeanour carried in media can be overawed if covering of exactitude of facts is explored so that it relishes the craze of a better quality control. It has a supreme responsibility to transcend bias, selfishness and favours in reporting and discoursing problems of the society in a sensible fashion.

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Humongous scoop or a chota story?
How big a story can be made to sound depends on the angle you give it.  If the ed in chief ‘s byline leads  three others  it makes the story sound suitably important. Then a whole page devoted to it, with a three line banner.  Then the angle: govt spooked by army exercise, with hints of the exercise being undertaken on a night when there was a significant development regarding the embattled army chief. Then dark hints about the story being kept under wraps for 11 full weeks. My goodness. On March 13 however had reported the same developments minus the drama—as the story of an army exercise which showed up chinks in the Para Brigade’s capabilities in the event of heavy fog.  May be they need to learn from the Indian Express.

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