Hours after senior journalist Sreenivasan Jain alleged that news channel NDTV took down his story on Amit Shah’s entrepreneur son Jay Shah’s companies on the grounds of further “legal vetting”, the ghost of newsroom censorship has started to stumble out of the closet.
Veteran journalist and once the face of NDTV, Barkha Dutt took to Twitter on Wednesday morning expressing her disdain against the former employer, saying “many of her stories were axed”.
Dutt, in her Twitter post said axing stories at NDTV is not at all a new phenomena and that while working there she had to fight over newswroom censorship on various occasions. “Yes, axing stories at NDTV not new. And I don't recall said ex colleagues standing up for freedom of press & reporting when some of fought it (sic),” she wrote.
yes,axing stories at NDTV not new. And I don't recall said ex colleagues standing up for freedom of press & reporting when some of fought it https://t.co/Dmx1gZSfXO— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 17, 2017
Axing of stories no"aberration"; Yes, Stories are dropped in other newsrooms too; but they don't claim to be different or superior, do they https://t.co/nT18QdaPgp— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 18, 2017
Her allegations also point towards “censorship” as the possible reason for her bitter exit from the news channel. Dutt, who has been quiet on the subject for so long, has finally expressed her angst against the former employers and colleagues who she thinks “did not stand up for the freedom of press and reporting”.
The senior journalist then went on to cite instances where she as well as her other colleague’s wasmade to sit on their stories or junk it.
She said her interview with P Chidambaram, was axed while other stories manage to create a furor in the otherwise assumed “liberal’ newsroom.
“My PC intvw axed:a story I led on a Congress bigwig was a big row: @nitingokhale intvw of ex Navy Chief axed.None of these folks spoke then (sic).”
Nitin Gokhale was the former defence correspondent of NDTV, and now a national security analyst who hosts talk shows on Doordarshan. Gokhale, on Wednesday morning, was the first one to come out and tweet how, in a similar fashion, his "explosive" interview with the Navy chief was pulled down from the channel's website exactly three years ago. He said that lead to his exit from the organisation.
"In less than a month, I quit. Let’s hope you show similar spunk. Good luck.," he replied on Jain's tweet.
Finally, in a stinging last tweet, revealing the reason for her exit from the news channel, Dutt said “we stuck to our stand”. “Can share @nitingokhale & I were punished for speaking on censorship of our work:@ndtv was hostile to us: we parted. We stuck to our stand (sic).”
Sreenivasan Jain on late Tuesday night, in a short FaceBook post, had alleged that a report by him and journalist Manas Pratap Singh on loans given to Jay Shah’s companies was taken down from NDTV’s website a week ago. Terming it as a “hard choice for journalists” Jain then said that he is treating the situation as a “distressing aberration”.
"A situation like this presents journalists with hard choices. For now, I am treating this is as a distressing aberration and have decided to continue to do the journalism that I have always done – on NDTV. All of this has been conveyed to NDTV."
To queries on Jain’s story being taken down, NDTV tweeted on October 12 that the article was being legally vetted. Jain himself had said that it was a temporary takedown.
An earlier NDTV report on Jay Shah's loans is being legally vetted.— NDTV (@ndtv) October 12, 2017
Its a temporary takedown, while certain legal issues are being examined. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. https://t.co/wXX0vVH6WI— Sreenivasan Jain (@SreenivasanJain) October 12, 2017
The story was a follow-up to the The Wire’s article alleging illegality in the business of Jay Shah. Jay Shah filed criminal and civil defamation cases against The Wire editors and the freelance author.
Recently, it was reported that SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh was taking over the news channel. NDTV, however, denied the reports in a statement given to the BSE.