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C’mon, Spare Some Column Space

What did our media have to say about Aseem Trivedi being arrested for his cartoons? Not so much.


Just when you thought that the India Against Corruption campaign had died a quiet death, it’s been given a new lease of life. The unexpected boost yet again comes from the Congress! In the form of the arrest of cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi. Trivedi was arrested on Saturday by the Mumbai police and remanded to seven days custody when he surrendered before them.

His “crime”? “Sedition” – say the police. He drew a cartoon that depicts the national emblem with wolves in pace of lions and the slogan Bhrahtameva Jayate in place of Satyameva Jayate.

He was charged under the IPC’s section 124 (sedition). He was also charged under the Information Technology Act’s section 66-A for posting obscene content and just to be on the safe side also under the Prevention of Insult to Nation Honour (PINH) Act’s section 2. The case against him filed last December was filed by a Mumbai-based lawyer, Amit Arvind Katarnaware, who’s also managed to get his bit of fame.

Aseem incidentally has been vocal in his support of Anna Hazare, and his friends, family and well-wishers insist that this is the reason he is being hounded. His arrest has sparked massive outrage on social media sites.

But what about our TV and print media? How vocal have they been in defending freedom of speech, creative license, the journalism of courage, etc etc?  Judge for yourself.

The TV media on Sunday did carry it on their bulletins, but didn’t play it up. They were all mostly sidelined by Arnab’s interview of Raj Thackeray anyway. This morning, however, there was adequate mention on almost all TV channels, specifically Headlines Today and Times Now. NDTV eventually mentioned it too. IBN Live had one of those six guest-box routines going on at 10 in the morning and were going at it hammer and tongs. Quite remarkable an achievement so early in the morning! One can expect lots more from all of them by tonight.

The print media was a different story. The Hindu was the only newspaper to have covered Aseem’s arrest comprehensively. It had a large anchor piece on the front page with Aseem making a victory sign. It had much more information on who, what, exactly when and the whys of the entire scenario. On Page 10, there was a full report on the details of the complaint, and next to it was Justice Katju’s condemnation of the arrest.

TOI had the news bang on top of its front page, with all the charges, counter-charges, following it up with a story inside on how Aseem has refused a lawyer since he has done nothing wrong. And that was it.

Hindustan Times stood up for one of its own by putting the story in the “short stories” box on the left-hand column of the front page, and….nothing else. Let’s all pretend to be shocked at their lack of any kind of anti-establishment coverage.

And last and definitely the least, especially in circulation figures, comes The Indian Express, who didn’t think it necessary to put the news on the front page at all. They had it on the extreme bottom right of Page Two. Aseem and his well-wishers needn’t worry. There are very few people who will know the very little that IE wrote about him.

Trivedi was scheduled to visit Washington DC in September to receive the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award which he shared jointly with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat – but was denied a visa. Wonder why. There are also others who have campaigned for Trivedi’s arrest on the basis of his suspect cartooning skills.

Notwithstanding the lack of column space devoted to him in the national newspapers, if Aseem Trivedi was unheard of earlier, as of Saturday he has become a household name thanks to the social media. And if you hadn’t ever seen his cartoons before, you can be sure that they are going viral – just about now.

The review is taking into account the Delhi editions of the newspapers only.

 

Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/ooocha/2869511548/]

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  • ppp

    Lambi lagegi bete ko! :P