Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tweet-Crimes & The Real Watchdogs

After Radiagate rattled the media and the nation CNN-IBN ran a programme on lobbying and whether it should be legalised. Supporting the legalisation of lobbying were quite a few tweets that did not seem genuine. Fake tweets have been employed some channels to further their agenda quite frequently and consistently. Take for instance a Twitter handle called @campuscola. Tweets from this account frequently appear on TimesNow but if you look closely almost all of Campuscola’s tweets are to just one programme: Arnab Goswami’s  NewsHour on TimesNow. Naturally, it makes one wonder why anyone would be so obsessed with the NewsHour. But unlike fake Twitter accounts there are many others who have actually become the real watchdog over the mainstream media.

If TV news is instant and a hit and run operation it no more escapes the scrutiny of the social network just as instantly. And to suit their bias, slant and agenda news channels are now famous for twisting and manipulating tweets hoping nobody will notice. But the exact opposite is happening. Every goof up, every deception and every abuse of tweets are instantly spotted by tweeters and relayed over the twitterworld.

Blogger @Scamsutra has painstakingly listed how fake tweets are milked by news channels to further their agenda. His detailed post ‘Milking fake tweets’ around May 2011 has a long list of tweet-crimes by our news channels. He’s not the only one, Anil Kohli (@anilkohli54) started a post in December 2010 on his blog site which he updates frequently with incidents of tweet-abuse by news channels. Apart from tweet-abuse Kohli also lists misuse of videos and tweets manipulated by news channels and you can read the whole lot in his continuing post titled: ‘Twitter a case of Fatal attraction….’

In November 2011 when Sagarika Ghose and CNN-IBN carried out a fraud on its viewers through wilful deception involving a ‘Look-live’ interview of Sri Sri Ravishankar as a LIVE programme, tweeters were quick to expose the channel again. For that sorry episode the channel not only apologised publicly but Sagarika apologised to Sri Sri personally as well. However, I still strongly believe that for such a farce Sagarika should have been sacked from the channel. They don’t seem to learn though. The latest in the continuing episode of tweet-crimes comes from Arnab Goswami’s TimesNow. Arnab was doing his best to rubbish articles on Narendra Modi by TIME magazine and the Brookings Institute. In support of this enthusiastic Modi-bashing TimesNow went on to brazenly manipulate a tweet by me to appear as if it supported the channel’s theories and agenda. The ‘Sack Sagarika’ episode has now forced all channels to prominently display on screen whether the programme is Live or Recorded. This is the power of social network in action.

The abridged and manipulated tweet as used by TimesNow and my original tweet are captured in the pic to the left. This pic was created by another observant Twitter user @Surnell. The original pic of the abridged tweet was captured by another sharp tweeter @DilipSanchora. It is somewhat hard to believe that a channel like TimesNow has operators who can’t seem to understand simple tweets and in their enthusiasm to quote tweets in support of their programme end up twisting up, manipulating and completely altering the meaning of a statement. Are they really that dumb? Quite possible! Are they indulging in wilful tweet-crimes to support their agenda? Quite possible!

All it took was one stern email to TimesNow’s legal cell and within a week they caved in. On March 26 the channel scrolled an apology that ran throughout the duration of its NewsHour programme. The scrolled apology couldn’t be captured on video but this is what the apology read (partly shown in the 2nd pic provided by @Equateall):

On March 19, 2012 a tweet by @mediacrooks was abridged by us ….  the error is regretted and an apology offered”.

That is one part. The better part is that the Press Council of India (PCI) or the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) need not be the only bodies for taking up illegitimate and illegal behaviour by news channels or even other TV channels. Tweeters have become the watchdogs, observers, investigators and evidence providers and do a far better job than PCI or NBA would ever do in keeping TV-crimes in check. I have mentioned a few of the people on Twitter but I am sure there are many more. 

The media celebs who form a huge mafia and once touted their power of peddling anything and being able to influence viewers no longer hold such complete power. The media mafia is as much under scrutiny on Twitter as they imagine they are scrutinising others. This time around, TimesNow has been allowed to get away with an apology but the damage could have been far worse. Hopefully, MSM’s tweet-crimes will stop as with their other crimes.


  1. Great post... but Times Now achieved what they intended...the apology at a later subsequently loses its relevance...for instance something as gigantic as Coalgate has been forgotten in the Army din....tweets and apologies for misusing them will not ring a bell with 99.99% viewers...the fear of god shld be drilled into these media morons so that do not do it in the first instance.

  2. Congratulations Ravinar. This is great proof of the fact that media is realising their limitations and hopefully will control their stupidity. Big achievement for your blog. Please continue. I check your blog almost every day to see new posts since media has completely lost its credibility for objective reporting.

  3. i had certain regard for Arnab but it is fading away fast not as fast as the hate grew for Barkha read my blog post( certainly at the lightening speed for Rajdeep Sardesai.. i had certain admiration for Barkha that too a long time ago but the reporting and views(specially regarding kashmir,gujarat riots and NaMo,maoists) expressed in very biased manner was very much evident that she and her channel has an agenda and that admiration for her evaporated very fast .And i must confess that this likeness was never there for Rajdeep Sardesai. And then Radiagate or Barkhagate happened..and the rest is history. i confess that i surely watch her programs even now but you have to have watch the moves of those whom you hate as much as of those whom you love..

  4. Congratulations to Ravinar on these little successes which I am sure will go a long way towards raising social consciousness in India about what media should definitely not engage in (especially, so doggedly and systematically).

    I am glad there was an apology. But I could not help noticing that the apology is not genuine. It does not at all admit their meddling with the meaning of the tweet, and misrepresenting it to suit their purpose. In their apology they admit only to "abridging", which means shortening yet preserving the meaning; routine journalistic activity that is never objectionable ! The real mischief has not been admitted and has been covered up. See how stuck up they are ! Snooty crooks.

  5. good job done in exposing culprit and paid media!

  6. Awesome ! This should be an eye-opener for many nay-sayers who say how much does tweeting or writing a blog about the media mafia affect them ? they would anyway continue their sin, while we waste our precious time !
    I sincerely feel this is just a beginning ! Keep it up Ravinar !

  7. Dear Ravinar,

    Although a little off topic, Its really surprising why do news about a regional leader such as yediurrappa get so much publicity in national news nowadays? The possible answer lies in the fact that Congress bootlickers in Media feels they can discredit the whole BJP as a possible alternative to Congress. Somedays back the same trick was played during Induction of Mr Kushwaha in UP. Although nothing wrong about targeting a corrupt politician, but it seems the targets are being selected depending on their party.

  8. kudos for the post but the problem is.. people are forgetful and dont relate to things, particularly news items that comfortably.. they will not be able to relate with the apology tendered by the channel in question.. you see, their agenda is served, and it is not a guarantee that the same set of viewers would watch the apology! good one and please keep it up!

  9. A splendid kick on Arnab's butt. Congrats Ravinar.

  10. I appreciate you and I would like to read your next post.
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