The unprecedented behaviour of Andhra Pradesh police on media over the ‘coverage’ of state police chief’s ‘personal’ visit to a God man’s residence in Old City is reprehensible.
All those mighty and powerful holding public office either can lay claims to secrecy and confidentiality of their personal life’s or hides themselves from media cameras, glare and the accompanying media blitz.
With ever increasing visual media channel proliferation and competition among them, it is but natural for media houses to cover sensational news. After all, sensational news, particularly those high profile leaders and bureaucrats, makes good “Breaking News” headlines. It holds the key to increasing ‘viewership’ and TRP ratings, which is the media trend today. More sensational the news item is the more attractive it becomes the means to increase viewership. Hardly there is concern for upholding standards of journalistic probity in today’s highly competitive or cut throat world.
However, the aggrieved persons have the option for redress through either the Press Council of India, usually headed by most revered retired Supreme Court Judge or approach the Court by filing a defamation suit.
In the specific case of the state DGP, Dinesh Reddy, none of these options were chosen. Instead, the DGP has taken recourse to registering cases against the media representatives and arresting them for tampering evidence. That the accused TV channel has apparently apologized and accepted the guilt. One has to wait and see whether the state police will pursue further legal action.
Surprisingly, the State Police decision to slap cases against the print media, particularly a reputed publication like The Hindu, is what as a seasoned journalist, having spent more than three decades in the profession, feel is a ‘high-handed’ act. It is bound to bounce back and damage the credibility of post the State DGP.
In retrospect, the DGP is to be blamed for the controversy. His visit to a ‘God man’ in a convoy of escort vehicles in the full public glaze is surely in bad taste. In particular, the visit following the recent Supreme Court directive ordering a CBI probe into the alleged illegal assets of the DGP in response to his own senior colleague’s petition.
None can dispute that the DGP has personal life. As DGP, he may claim to enjoy the privilege to have security cover wherever he goes. He could have used his personal vehicle and one or two cars of security personnel ferrying him to the said God man’s residence without drawing much attention of public or media eye.
In the framework of probity and propriety in public affairs, his use of escort is patently wrong for private purpose. Moreover causing traffic inconvenience during busy morning traffic hours is also patently wrong.
Dinesh Reddy, who claims being honest and upright, had sent instructions to the concerned senior officials to make bandhobast and escort him to the God man’s residence, giving ample opportunity to catch not only the people’s attention but also the media, whose duty is to keep always its ‘eyes and ears’ open.
Having said that, I for one feel, the DGP’s decision to take the media head on might be doing more damage than good to his own reputation, that too when the CBI probe ordered by the Supreme Court is hanging on his head like Damocles’ sword.
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