Saturday, July 20, 2013

The (sad) State of Journalism

July 18th, 2013. The morning of my birthday. I'm featured on Page 1 of Bangalore Mirror (BM) Newspaper. Amidst birthday wishes, I also get "wow" messages for getting featured on BM; until I specified that the photo that appeared was without my consent. And then all the "wow" turned to "wtf"!

The news was related to the terrible experience I had with an auto driver and the swift action taken by Bangalore Traffic Police and the involvement of a concerned citizen who followed up the complaint to it's fulfillment. You can find more details about that in my previous post: Click here

Here's the only interaction I had with the BM reporter (Screenshot of what was posted as comment on the post I made on BTP followed by facebook message interaction)

Interaction with Bangalore Mirror reporter

Nowhere in this interaction have I mentioned about allowing the to use my photo nor have I been requested for the same. 

Given the nature of the article, there could be a possible retaliation from the auto driver; considering he knows the apartment I stay in. And instead of protecting my identity, they have gone ahead and printed my photo. 

Now the argument could be that I have already posted on my blog and raised a complaint to BTP on facebook. and both carried my profile pics or so. But please note that the "blog" here is my own and the facebook profile is mine too. I don't need to take any permission for that. Also online media is way different than print media. Print media is more accessible to people. Also, this news was on Page 1! with a picture of the auto driver and a picture of me right there inset. 

I wish the reporter was more sensitive about it. Or at least consulted me before using the picture and I would have denied it right there and then. They could have ran the article with just the quotes and the pictures posted by BTP (BTP did not post my pictures)

My parents were quite worried! I have started carrying a pepper spray and now being extra cautious. 
But Purnima Iyer (Seetharaman), who came to the city from Palakkad, Kerala, is a gutsy woman. 
The above is a quote from the BM paper. This information was taken off my public profile on facebook. Palakkad is listed as my hometown. The photo too was probably taken from my facebook profile. 

Please note that my photo on facebook is privately shared. Non-facebook users don't have access and facebook users who are not my friends see only a small profile picture (as per how facebook shows) which is view-able only (cannot be clicked and enlarged). And this is what was used to print in the article. 

Which means, that a private photo was printed without taking due permission. However, I'm sure loopholes will be found around the use of my photo. Especially since online rules are just weird and not transparent to people like me.

I wrote a letter to the editor at bmfeedback@gmail.com. No response. I wanted to file a complaint to Press Council of India. As per rules, I was to write a letter to the editor and try to resolve matters if possible. If not, I can go ahead with the complaint but a letter to the editor was a must. Which I had already done. 

However, considering the amount of mails the Editor must be getting in a day,  I decided to call the BM office and requested to talk to someone regarding this. I was directed to the Editor. I spoke to him. He tried to convince me saying it was a positive article. I agreed and told even though it was a positive article, they should not have printed my photo without my permission. To which he said they are aware of my concern, will see about it. I against insisted it was not right and then he told me that whatever was printed was on public forum and they had every right to print it. I tried to reason with him saying that my photo was not on public forum and was not public property to use. To which he said it was on public forum and they could print it. He was keen on hanging up and when I asked if I could proceed with a formal complaint; he said I may do so.

As per what some journo friends have been telling me, what BM did was probably not illegal. It is a question of morals and ethics.

They printed my photo without clearing it with me. When I reached out to them, I at least expected an apology. But... Sigh...

Even the source of the picture was not mentioned...

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And then of course, thanks to BM's news, I now have hate comments. No one entertained it though. But it's just weird people try to make a racist issue out of everything (the comment on BTP page)

Screenshot of comments on BTP page


And this at Bangalore Mirror article's comments section:
This still seems a one sided story... it seems that she is clearly exaggerating and playing a naive victim. But I don't think that is the case here. Unfortunate the driver has no say in this :-(

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However I'm not generalizing all reporters. Because I did have an ethical reporter approach me on the same incident. A screenshot of the interaction of facebook follows:

Interaction with Deccan Chronicle Reporter

Hope there are more reporters like the DC reporter who wanted to talk to me before printing anything. Also, the reason I had agreed to talk to DC was because it was going to be a general issue as seen in the conversation.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Auto Driver or Gunda?


I just had a terrible experience with an auto driver. The vehicle number is KA 41 1504. The driver's name is Reddy

Image Source: http://coloringpages101.com/printable_page/368/Vehicle_Transport/Auto_Rikshaw


I took the auto from Fortis Hospital at Bannerghatta to Electronic city Phase 1. As usual no auto drivers were ready to come by meter. Finally a rate of 300 Rs was fixed with this guy.

Since I was unwell, I told him to take via the Silkboard road. Instead he took via some alleys, full of speed bumps and bad roads now and then. And finally when he dropped me at my destination, he demanded more since the drop location was about 3-4 kms inside from the main road.

I argued that I have been dropped here before for the same rate and to that he started screaming. Argument is not what mattered to me, but his language and tone. He was screaming unnecessarily on the top of his voice for no reason when I was not being disrespectful. I kept mentioning that there was no reason for him to raise his voice as I'm talking politely.

For that he went on to talk that he is a "Reddy" and flaunting what he could do etc.

I told him that he was wrong in the eyes of law that he did not switch on the meter and now he is arguing for more money.

I finally asked how much he was expecting as this was beginning to worsen my headache. He said extra 80 rs for 4 kms. I told him that it was not going to happen and gave him 330 rs as total instead. For which he said "what will happen with 30 rs".

By that time, I had heard enough of him and I said 30 rs is a big amount for me and that if he doesn't want it, I will keep it with me. To which, he almost threw the money at me and started screaming more. So much that all the security guards and people were beginning to gather.

Then just as soon as I was about to get down, he snatched the money from my hand. (Obviously he wasn't gonna let it go!) He was beaming with anger for no apparent reason.

The security guard helped me out of the auto and I told the auto driver again to be respectful and talk properly. I reminded him again that he is wrong to have NOT switched the meter on and that I could take him to a concerned official and his license maybe cancelled.

To which he said he doesn't care about all that and he knows how to manage that. I noted his number and walked away while he was still screaming behind me.

This was a really disturbing experience for me. This is not the first time I have argued. But this is the first time someone has spoken as rudely as this guy. I'm quite amazed that I still managed to keep calm. He did not deserve it though...

I rarely take auto rickshaws... Now I'm going to outright ban them from my life! I'm not sure if I have conveyed the rudeness of that driver enough here. Wish I had recorded the whole thing! As simple as just starting the voice recorder on my phone.... Sigh..


P.S: I've messaged the Bangalore Traffic Police about the same via their facebook group. It's high time the auto rickshaws started using the bloody "meter"!

Image Source: http://sansui.tradeindia.com/digital-auto-rickshaw-meter-8111.html


ANDROID USERS:
Try this app. Once everyone starts using it, it will be very helpful!
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Vehicle_saviour
About Saviour: http://www.nextbigwhat.com/reviews-of-autos-taxis-saviour-297/

P.P.S: Some information I got off the facebook group from a civilian facing the auto rickshaw woes:
(Thanks to Mr. Chandan (as seen in the comments section) for the same)

For Refusal SMS
AUTO REF AUTO NO. LOCATION TIME OF REFUSAL
EXAMPLE: AUTO REF KA01XY1234 MG ROAD TO KORAMANGALA 5:30PM

For Overcharging
AUTO OVR AUTO NO. LOCATION TIME OF OVERCHARGING
EXAMPLE: AUTO OVR KA01XY1234 MG ROAD TO KORAMANGALA 5:30PM

SEND TO 52225 For Airtel Subscribers.
and SEND TO 9663952225 for Non-Airtel Subscribers.

The SMS hasn't worked for me though...

To register complaints against autorickshaw drivers demanding more money than normal meter fare, people can dial 080-25588444/555 and register the complaint.After the welcome message, register your complaint by a voice message. The duration is 60 seconds.

During the call, provide details like the auto’s registration number; the place (of the incident), date and time; and type of offence (whether refusal or demanding more fare).

UPDATE: July 17th 2013:
Bangalore Traffic Police has taken action. Auto driver was fined 1100 Rs, asked for a written letter of apology and given serious counselling. Click this link to see the effort by BTP :)

Update: July 20th 2013: Click here


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