Sheena Bora case: Where is the media headed?

BY KAKOLI THAKUR| IN Media Practice | 29/08/2015
We are experiencing a kind of journalism that has thrown all media ethics, morality and laws to the wind.
KAKOLI THAKUR wonders what sort of label to give to the journalism on display

For the last three days, the fanatical and kite-flying reporting in the media over the Sheena Bora murder case makes it seem as if there is no other important issue to discuss in India. What can we call it – yellow journalism, sensational journalism or is it journalism at all?

We are experiencing a kind of journalism that has thrown all media ethics, morality and laws to the wind. A kind of journalism where just about anybody and everybody are voicing opinions and turning investigative officers -- throwing about bizarre theories and allegations and the media is lapping it up for TRPs and hits.

TV channels are airing the topic as their main debate with panellists turning moral police on their prime time slots. Cameras are reaching everywhere, right from Guwahati to Kolkata, to Alipore, to Raigad to Dehradun and of course Mumbai -- the place of crime -- making life hell for friends, families and neighbours.

Panelists from different fields are delivering their own judgements, sometimes referring to Indrani Mukherjea as Lady Macbeth and sometimes propagating theories on why the murder took place. They think they are appointed by the CBI to solve the case.

One friend of Sanjeev Khanna was asked, does he think Khanna could be the murderer. As a friend why would he answer that?

Some even are showing dramatic representations of the sequence of events with cartoons or actors.

Some websites are going to any extent to increase readership, publishing all sorts of murky speculation like ‘was Sheena pregnant?’ without even verifying the facts and writing about Indrani’s past life in Guwahati based on unnamed people.

The print media is not far behind, giving far too much space to the topic with almost half page on page 1 and two more pages inside with pictures of Indrani and Peter reading ‘once happy couple’. The dramatic saga is getting the same space even two-three days after it first came to light.

People from different media sections, whoever was ‘once’ in touch with the media baron Indrani Mukherjea are now jumping in to get some footage. One top journalist made some startling and disturbing revelations about Indrani’s traumatic childhood and the print media are readily lapping it up on the front pages without even following even basic journalistic norms. Do we have any reason to believe these bizarre, unsubstantiated theories? And why would we want to know so many personal details?

All sections of the media are busy creating their own theories about Peter Mukherjea’s statement that he did not know; how Rahul Mukherjea can remain silent about the disappearance of his girlfriend and how can Mikhail Bora be silent for three years, he being a brother.

A TV reporter also followed Mikhail on-board the flight, as he was coming to Mumbai to join the investigation. The media is also showing interest on the biological father of Sheena and Mikhail. 

The number of marriages of Indrani has become the butt of jokes even on social media with Sanjeev Khanna, Indrani’s second husband also in the hook. First sister, then daughter is another hot topic.

The social media with no gate-keeping is also showing its really ugly and dangerous side with just about anybody saying anything. Twitter and Facebook are full of such comments.

*At this rate, Arnab Goswami may soon replace ACP Pradyuman in solving murder cases #SheenaTruthOut

*Who killed Who. Who married Who. Who was in Relationship with Who. Enough of who. Lets find this who. #SheenaTruthOut

*Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi alleges that BJP govt is responsible 4 #Sheena murder & the coverup.INC would hv done a better job! #SheenaTruthOut

 * #SheenaTruthOut Guys if any of you has been an ex husband of Indrani tell us now !!! No shocks later....

 Some have turned detectives and are floating their own conspiracy theories.

*SheenaTruthOut The motive could be money(black) Better check the bank accounts of all concerned incl. Sheena's.

*In #SheenaTruthOut how come Upendra Bora, rapist has not been arrested? How come Peter, Rahul and Mikhail are not being charged complicity 

But then there some who seemed sensible and took on the media for the carpet bombing of Shena/Indrani stories. 

*TIMES NOW don't you have better news to play ? too much on this. Let Police do the rest #SheenaTruthOut

*Horrible! The lengths you go to in the name of journalism. Some restraint & sensitivity next time? #SheenaTruthOut

As a journalist I can’t help wondering to what extent the media can go to increase TRPs and readership. It seems as if they have deleted the word ethics from their dictionary. Sometimes I feel pity for the reporters who are given the responsibility of round-the-clock coverage.

The job of media is to report the issue, not to pronounce judgements, that too on a public platform and turn a simple reporting exercise into a slander campaign against someone. More than reporting a murder story, the media seems more interested in finding out sensational personal details that may help them give more TRPs and hits. 

The rich can hide behind their high walls but the poor family of the driver, who was also allegedly an accomplice, is facing the brunt of our so-called society with everyone closing doors on their face.

I as a reader am fed up of reading all these unwanted and murky details and want to read about some real issues. Let the police do their job and the law take its own course.


Kakoli Thakur is an independent journalist based in Delhi-NCR. She has worked as a full-time journalist both in editorial and reporting positions in daily newspapers, weekly newspapers and magazines. Her last job was Resident Editor of Jagran Cityplus Delhi-NCR (Dainik Jagran group).  

She has a blog, 'Mixed Bag'.



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