Overreaching Fear of Modi, Chilling Effect in Play: N Ram on Why Mainstream Media is Not Reporting on Rafale Scam
"Whatever independence the media enjoyed back during the Bofors days appears to have eroded."
In an interview published in Indian Journalism Review, senior journalist N Ram has spoken on the state of mainstream Indian media today and how it is not giving adequate coverage to the Rafale Scam.
N Ram, who recently published an exposé on Rafale scam, had done cutting-edge reporting on the Bofors scandal. He says that the news media today is not responding to Rafale scam the same way it reacted to Bofors back in the day.
Here are the key quotes from his interview:
- There has been not been a like response from the news media this time. Although there has been a fair bit of investigation, it has mostly been in the digital news space.
- The Indian Express was on to the story initially but has stopped or should we say, paused, since we haven’t heard the end of the Rafale scandal yet.
- Broadly, the chilling effect is in play, the overarching fear of Narendra Modi. But it is also a reflection on the increasingly comprised character of the so-called mainstream media. Whatever independence the media enjoyed back during the Bofors days appears to have eroded. There is a kind of quiescence.
- The Hindu put in a lot of resources, human and financial, into the Bofors investigation and went all out. That does not appear to be the case now, with news organisations, whose business models are already under attack, overeager to give the benefit of the doubt to the establishment, quite unlike then.
- There is a lot more fear today, probably what you would expect from weakened and compromised news media.
- In the era of shrinking attention spans, it will become increasingly difficult for a story to survive beyond a few news cycles unless it is very big and unless others join in.