Now that the spectacle of the decade (or at least the last 5 years) is over, who covered it best? “Fake journalist Jason Jones”, according to a report published by the Noida-based daily Millennium Post on May 8, 2014. How did Millennium Post – which promises “no half-truths” – arrive at such a sweeping conclusion, though? A “new most scientific poll (which) displays that 97% of Indian voters trust Jones”. There is, however, no mention about the methodology of the “most scientific poll” in the copy.
The Millennium Post article introduces Jones as “Bronto-from-Toronto, a six-time Mr.Canada entrant”. For the uninitiated, Jones is, in fact, a correspondent with The Daily Show, an American satire show that features on Comedy Central. Jones was in India to look at how the media was covering “the biggest democratic exercise in the world”, and this is what he found.
The video shows Jones approaching a reporter from Millennium Post after being tipped off by former Election Commissioner SY Quraishi on the prevalence of paid news in India. The young reporter (Pooja Gupta according to the video) initially says she’s against the practice of paid news. When Jones asks her to write a story on him in lieu of money, she agrees to write a story about Jones making him “look interested about India”.
And that is the origin of the story that pronounces Jason Jones as the journalist Indian voters trust the most when it comes to bringing them news about the elections.
Baffled? So were we. We thought Durbar Ganguly, publisher and editor of Millennium Post, would be able to explain the bizarre story better. “We came to know about this only today. Remedial actions will be taken”, he said.
When we questioned him about the reporter responsible for the story, Ganguly said, “The reporter is not a regular employee of the newspaper. She’s an intern. We are looking into who edited the copy”.
Ganguly, however, vehemently denied that it was a case of paid news. “It is a case of error of judgment. We have a history of carrying stories no other publication would carry. No one can accuse us of indulging in paid news.”
Ganguly also informed Newslaundry that his company is considering legal action against The Daily Show. Apart from lawyers, Ganguly should also consider hiring a few fact-checkers and editors. They may be better investment options for Millennium Post.