Out of the 27 media houses named in Cobrapost’s Operation 136: Part 2, two Bengal media houses stood with their ground and refused to peddle Hindutva propaganda in exchange of money.
Despite the Delhi High Court injunction barring Cobrapost from making their sting operation Operation 136: Part 2 public, they released all the tapes on Youtube and also on Twitter.
While in part 1 of the operation, journalist Pushp Sharma had stung prominent media houses including Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, DNA, Punjab Kesari, ScoopWhoop, India TV, Rediff and UNI earlier, the latest sting features some of the biggest names of mainstream media which includes The Times of India, India Today, Hindustan Times, Zee News, Network 18, Star India, ABP News, Dainik Jagaran, Radio One, Red FM, Lokmat, ABN Andhra Jyothy, TV5, Dinamalar, Big FM, K News, India Voice, The New Indian Express, MVTV and Open magazine.
While most of the media houses accepted money in exchange of subtly incorporating Hindutva ideology in their stories, two Bengali newspapers, Dainik Sambad and Bartaman Patrika, refused to sell themselves.
Pushp Sharma, the journalist who went undercover as Acharya Chhatrapal Atal met with Ashish Mukherjee, the general manager (advertisement) of Bartaman Patrika. Mukherjee refused to publish any religious content.
He also gave lessons on journalism and ethics to the journalist. Talking about what he learnt about journalism from the former editor of the organisation, he said he was always told ‘Ashish Babu, you carry all advertisements (except those) where (in which) claim himself (anyone) to be God, to be good, to be best’.”
Ashish Mukherjee was referring to the late Barun Sengupta, the founder of the newspaper. He also went to jail during 1970s Emergency, when he refused to bow down to the diktats of Indira Gandhi on media.
Coincidentally, the tagline of Bartaman Patrika is “Bhogoban ke chhara kauke bhoy paae na” (Not scared of anyone other than God).
“Absolutely not… it is not permissible,” Ashish reiterated after he was given an offer to raise the biased advertising budget from 1.5 crores to 10 crores for the paper.
Pushp Sharma then approached Dainik Sambad, another Bengali newspaper. He asked them to publish Hindutva-tainted jingles keeping in mind 2019 elections. They refused to do so.
“It is our policy, it is for all people,” he said. The Cobrapost report said, “He refused to do anything with the advertisement after hearing the name of the organisation, which shows the basic principles of the media house even while doing business”.
The Logical Indian Take
In these troubling times when most media houses have already sold themselves to political parties and religious sects, Bartaman and Dainik Sambad have set an example. Media, the fourth pillar of democracy is supposed to give information as it is and fuel a healthy national debate, but they are selling themselves to the people who are paying the most. If prominent media houses like these give in to their greed for money and publish news to please certain section, citizens will never be able to form an informed and unbiased decision. These Bengali newspapers’ refusal to do the same sends out a ray of hope that Indian media is not completely sold out.
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