Cochin: New entrants in Indian News Space are resorting to new tactics of creating hype either by orchestrating a new issue that results in upraising or through the means of sting operations.
When ABN Andhrajyothi (Telugu News Channel) was launched in October 2009, the channel peaked to popularity with in few days of launch due to expose of a sting operation against then Governor of the state N.D. Tiwari. While Maharashatra One was launched in Jan 2016 the News Channel took the issue of gender in-equality issue against few temples not allowing woman to enter the temples in Maharashtra.
Towing the line of its past, Newly launched Malayalam News channel Mangalam TV also aspired to peak the TRP charts with the help of a sting operation. However, the same has landed itself in trouble for honey trapping the former Sports Minister of Kerela Mr. Saseendran with the help of a woman journalist. The issue has not only attracted criticism from the general public but also landed the Channel CEO and a group of journos behind bars.
Five journalists, including CEO of Mangalam TV Ajith Kumar were arrested by Crime Branch on Tuesday night, Two weeks after an audio tape created ripples in Kerala.A case was filed against nine journalists, including a woman journalist who honey trapped former sports Minister Saseendran under 120 b of the IPC (criminal conspiracy) and section 67 a of the IT Act.
Sajan Varghese, Chairman of Mangalam TV is the first accused in the case, CEO Ajith Kumar is the second accused. Other accused in the case are Coordinating Editor MB Santhosh, Rishi K Manoj, K Jayachandran alias S Narayanan, who lead the sting operation team and News Editors Lakshmi Mohan, Firoz Sali Mohammed and S V Pradeep and the woman who allegedly spoke with the then Minister.
The sting operation that had an elaborate and sexually explicit conversation had lead to the resignation of the minister. But the channel had received a lot of flak for breaking all journalistic norms and for doing an entrapment.
Widespread criticism had finally forced the channel to clarify that it was a reporter who had the conversation with the minister, and not a hapless housewife as they had first claimed.
Bogged by the criticism Mangalam TV tendered an unconditional apology on Thursday night.The apology from Mangalam CEO A Ajithkumar was telecast soon after the government announced a police probe into the incident. The channel also admitted that it was a sting operation carried out by its editorial team.
Meanwhile, Kerala Union of Working Journalists demanded a detailed police investigation along with a judicial probe to clear the “mystery” of the whole matter.
KUWJ General secretary C Narayanan, in a statement, said even isolated incidents of insulting and doubting women journalists were very unfortunate.
This ugly episode of Mangalam TV exposes the standard of news gathering in the country that has stooped to new low for the sake of attracting eyeballs.