A new controversy has broken out regarding an article by journalist Anand Kochukudy, published in The Quint titled “How Kerala Fan Base ‘Made’ CM Pinarayi Vijayan ‘Captain’”. Numerous issues are surrounding the article has created controversies, including the author’s claims that someone affiliated to CPM within The Quint changing his bio to lie — read blatantly violate journalistic ethics — that he is part of the Congress media cell. Here is a link to the story.
In a tweet, Anand Kochukudy said, “It has come to my notice that someone affiliated to @CPIMKerala at @TheQuint accessed my article & edited my bio and the title to try and discredit me and the piece. I am assured that it will be rectified forthwith. I am escalating the matter and taking it up with the higher-ups (sic).”
However, there are more issues to the matter as well. For one, the change in the bio is a serious breach of journalistic standards that The Quint has been known to uphold. Some have pointed out that it shows an intolerance that was often associated with the ruling BJP at the Centre.
Moreover, others have pointed out that there was a change in the headline indicating another issue. The original headline had been “How Kerala TV Channels and Media ‘Made’ CM Pinarayi ‘Captain’”.
The original title is more indicative of the article than the current one. The story talks about how the Kerala government used its trademark KIIFB and state machinery assisted by Kerala media to create the narrative of Pinarayi Vijayan as the ‘Captain’ of the state. He refers to countless news articles and interviews to make his argument. In his story, Anand writes, “What is more shocking is that almost every news channel in Kerala barring Manorama News has aired anywhere between 15-50 hours of footage paid for by the government without any disclaimers.”
He adds, “Mathrubhumi News aside, which has a ‘sponsored’ label at the beginning of the show lasting couple of seconds, none of the other channels bothered to put up any disclaimers about the paid nature of the content, despite raking in anywhere between Rs 50 lakhs to a crore for telecasting these shows.”
Contrary to critics, Anand doesn’t make these claims out of thin air. He presents evidence to his arguments, and he has them ready to satisfy any queries concerning these. For example, some have pointed out that his claims that KIIFB spent money on government ads had been baseless. However, he provides a copy of Finance Ministers Thomas Isaac’s reply that KIIFB had spent more than Rs 6 Crore towards government ads in various channels. Meanwhile, others have alleged that there were deliberate attempts to hold back The Quint piece until after polling. The news organisation is yet to reply to the allegations.