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.



4 comments:

  1. Thats really insane....
    Media should really take care of this!!!!

    Printing Indore

    ReplyDelete
  2. The problem with print media today is they are more concern about creating sensational news, rather than news.. and I read your last blog as well, it was picture prefect for them.. and anyways they take Common people for Granted, that they will not object on anything...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And since we do not have defined laws, it's just based on ethics and morals. So well...

      Delete

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