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Kerala Journalists up in Arms Against 'Sting Operation' on Minister

he telecast of a sexually explicit conversation allegedly between former Kerala transport minister A K Saseendran and a woman by a news channel on its launch day has sparked a controversy, with many questioning the ethics of the story.

Neethu Reghukumar | CNN-News18

Updated:March 31, 2017, 3:28 PM IST
Kerala Journalists up in Arms Against 'Sting Operation' on Minister
Women journalists protesting against Mangalam TV. Image: Neethu Reghukumar
Thiruvananthapuram: The telecast of a sexually explicit conversation allegedly between former Kerala transport minister A K Saseendran and a woman by a news channel on its launch day has sparked a controversy, with many questioning the ethics of the story.

Saseendran had resigned on March 26 after the conversation was aired on Mangalam channel.

Many journalists have questioned the veracity of the audio and how a private conversation of someone was aired on TV. Journalists in the state have also raised questions on whether it was a genuine case or a honey trap.

Now, women journalists are taking out protest marches against the channel and a delegation will meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at 3 PM on Friday.

A case has been registered against nine members of Mangalam TV including the CEO Ajith Kumar.

The channel had initially claimed that the minister spoke like this and tried to exploit a woman who went to submit a complaint to him. But later, Kumar admitted on TV that the minister was the target of a “sting operation”. He appeared on TV and said that the sting had been conducted by a woman reporter from their organisation. He said that a reporter had volunteered.

The state government has decided to hand over the inquiry to a Special Investigation Team. IG Dinendra Kashyap will supervise the probe.

Al Neema Ashraf, a woman journalist working with Mangalam, resigned from the channel in the aftermath of the sting. She posted the reason behind her resignation on Facebook.

"I was very happy to be a part of this media house, but I resigned as this situation made it difficult for me to continue as a woman journalist,” she said in Facebook post in Malayalam.

“In the beginning, they had formed a five-member investigation team and my name was suggested in that, but I refused as I felt that it will not be the journalism I want to do. When the news related to A K Saseendran came out, I thought about what they said initially and I realised what was wrong. There are many questions in my mind, who is the complainant, on which complaint did she approach the minister, and why was the voice of the lady edited out?” she added.

“After this, it feels like all women journalists in the state are being insulted and are placed under the cloud of doubt, which is sad. I hope I can do real journalism outside,” she said.

Women journalists under the Network of Women in Media had submited a complaint to Vijayan stating that there should be an inquiry.

Women journalists in Kerala took out a protest marches to the offices of Mangalam in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

Geetha Nazeer, Deputy co-ordinating Editor at Janayugom Publications and state convenor of Network for Women in Media said that the channels half hearted apology will not put an end to this. She added that the channel has insulted women journalists who have so far worked with integrity.

"Women Journalists are now forced to confront questions from various quarters questioning our credibility and integrity," she said.

Sarita Varma, a senior journalist said, “this is the first time in the history of Kerala that women journalists were forced to come on the streets... this single action has caused a lot of damage to the entire women journalist community. Credibility of the women journalist has come down."

Gita Bakshi, journalist and who was also formerly working with Mangalam said that they have a responsibility of making the society aware that this is not journalism. "Someone is doing this and labelling it as journalism. We want to get back our integrity."
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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