The election process is currently on in five states, but the eyes of the entire country's media are on Uttar Pradesh. However, in the midst of this, a section of the media did something that once again brought to life the ghost of paid news.
Just after the second phase of polling in UP, the Dainik Jagran group published an exit poll on its website, which went against the clear instructions issued by the Election Commission of India (EC). According to the EC, no exit poll can be published till all the phases of polling have been completed.
Taking a strong stance, the EC directed action to be taken against Jagran, following which, the editor of Jagran online, Shekhar Tripathi, was arrested.
On this issue, the proprietor and editor-in-chief of the Dainik Jagran group, Sanjay Gupta, told The Indian Express that the exit poll had been commissioned by the marketing department. Gupta's statement gave rise to another debate – if the poll had been commissioned by the marketing department, did Jagran accept money for it?
Even in 2009, when the controversy over paid news began, Dainik Jagran was at the centre of the controversy. BJP leader Lalji Tandon had, at the time, referred to the Dainik Jagran group by name, and alleged that the group had been asking for money in return for publishing stories. Tandon had even said that the party had given tickets to the owners of the group.
In addition to this, the poll gave rise to several questions about the intentions of Jagran – like was it working for the benefit of a particular party?
Catch spoke to Ram Bahadur Rai, head of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and a veteran journalist, about paid news, the boundaries of the editor-owner relationship in the media and many other relevant issues.
Watch the full interview here.