The Rise of Goonda Media: Weeping Bihar Journo Says He Was Beaten Up by TV Channel Cameraman

Social Commentary

The Rise of Goonda Media: Weeping Bihar Journo Says He Was Beaten Up by TV Channel Cameraman

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

“News channels have now hired goondas instead of journalists,” said a weeping Abhishek Mishra of Bihar First. He narrates his ordeal through a video message, alleging that he had gone to the Janata Dal (United) office to cover a press conference where he was beaten up by a Times Now cameraman. “They hit me in the chest and stomach region. They hit me in the face. Are these channels hiring goons?” he asked weeping. Mishra claimed that he was going to resign from his organisation since he could not handle the situation any longer. It is not possible “to work amid such goons,” he said.

The video has been shared on social media with many raising concerns about the rise of violence in the media.

“Don’t let journalism die,” urged a Twitter user, tagging the Bihar Police as well as the administration.

This incident from Bihar is not an isolated one. A few days ago, an altercation took place between a group of journalists outside the Narcotics Control Bureau office in Mumbai. Journalist Pradeep Bhandari, whose Twitter bio describes him as the CEO and Founder of Jan Ki Baat as well as consulting editor of Republic TV, put the blame on “NDTV and ABP goons”. There were conflicting versions of the same event but what was clear is that those beating up each other were media persons associated with reputed organisations.

On Saturday, a senior journalist working with a local daily in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region was beaten up publicly and allegedly threatened with dire consequences when he went to a police station to register a case against those who had assaulted another journalist. “I am sitting on a hunger strike in front of the district collector’s office (to protest) against the violence against me,” said Kamal Shukla, editor of Bhumkal Samachar.

A written statement from IG Bastar stated, “The conflict was between two groups of journalists. The fight took place between Shukla, who is the editor of Bhumkal Samachar and the editor of Dainik Shrambindu, Ganesh Tiwari, and others including Jitendra Thakur, Makbool Khan and Gaffar Memon. Shukla’s medical examination has been done and a case has been registered against the accused under section 294, 506, 323 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and investigation is going on.”

Media’s hooliganism has been on stark display on TV as well. With journalists knocking on car windows, hounding “postmen” for destroying property, and shoving mics in Rhea Chakraborty’s face, the media has sunk to new lows over the past few months. The goonda culture has now become visible even off-screen with journalists getting into fistfights. These incidents paint a terrible picture for the profession, considered a pillar of democracy. But with each passing day, the pillar seems to be crumbling.

How many times are we to mourn the death of journalism?