We’re living in strange times — some of the best news scoops these days are unearthed by individual users on Twitter, and former giants of the media have begun behaving like Twitter users.
India Today has blocked several users on Twitter who’d questioned its Hathras coverage. Twitter user @BefittingFacts, who regularly dishes up scoops and stories against the establishment media, wrote that he’d been blocked by the national news channel. “A true journalist will never have a fear of call tapping but he will ask for more,” @BefittingFacts had earlier tweeted. “It is the job of journalists to dig out the truth, no matter how. But if a journalist is scared of “leaks”, it means that he wants to hide something and doesn’t want the truth to come out,” he’d added.
It seemed like a perfectly reasonable statement, but @BefittingFacts discovered he’d been blocked by India today. “Sunne ke kshamta rakho (have the ability to listen to criticism),” he wrote sharing the screenshot.
Another Twitter user @erbmja, who also often calls out the hypocrisy of the Lutyens media, also said he’d been blocked by India Today. ” WTF! looks like @IndiaToday is on blocking spree,” he wrote.
Other users also said that they’d been blocked by the channel.
Social media users questioned whether it was appropriate for a national channel to block individual users. “A news channel that claims to raise voice of people blocks everyone who questions them when their channel is caught tutoring Hathras victim’s family on what to speak. What happened to freedom of expression @indiatoday? ” asked Twitter user @iAnkurSingh.
“Never saw a channel block individuals,” wrote Twitter user Vikas Pandey.
India Today has been facing intense criticism since a leaked audio tape of a conversation between its journalist Tanushree Pandey and the brother of the Hathras victim went viral on social media. In the tape, Tanushree Pandey is seen coaching and coaxing the victim’s brother to get his father to record a video in which he admits to pressure from the state administration. Most worryingly, Tanushree Pandey appeared to threaten the victim’s brother by saying that the local administration could pin them for the crime, and even say that they killed the victim.
India Today was once a giant in India’s journalism space, but has been slowing sliding into irrelevance over the last few years. At the coveted 9 PM slot last week, India Today managed to garner 7 percent of viewers, compared to 77% that chose to watch Republic. Its Hindi channel, Aaj Tak, has also been dethroned by Republic Bharat as India’s number 1 Hindi News channel.