#SurgicalStrike: How The Quint went back to the future to bring us a ‘scoop’

#SurgicalStrike: How The Quint went back to the future to bring us a ‘scoop’

In the current state of chest-thumping, the fictional nature of The Quint’s story goes unnoticed.

By Subhabrata Dasgupta

Published on :

What should a news organisation do when a story it publishes about a clandestine “military operation” in enemy-occupied territory is denied by the same army – not once, but twice?

They could pull the story. They could issue a corrigendum. Or, if you are The Quint, you bide your time. You wait for a media briefing in which the army reveals an actual operation eight days after you’ve reported it. And then, you proudly take credit for the scoop.

Given the current state of jingoistic euphoria enjoyed by the nation, chest-thumping chauvinism and all, the fictional nature of the story goes unnoticed and an Indian Member of Parliament even congratulates you for your prescience.

The Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), in his official, textual statement today, never provided any specific dates. However, during his briefing to the press, he said:

“Now, based on some very specific and credible information which we received yesterday, some terrorists teams had positioned themselves at launchpads along the Line of Control with the aim to carry out infiltration, and terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir; and various other metros in our country. The Indian Army conducted surgical strikes last night at these launch pads.” (bold for emphasis)

So, we are told the operation took place last night, or in the intervening hours of September 28 and September 29. But trust The Quint to conflate news of this surgical strike and the army’s history of foiling similar infiltration attempts to claim that the DGMO has confirmed their “scoop.”

Their headline for the story on the surgical strike is: “Army Confirms PoK Surgical Ops: 1st Strike Reported by The Quint.” A story published on September 22 about an operation carried out a week later is seen as confirmation of the veracity of said story. Congratulations to The Quint for following in the fine footsteps of ABP News and taking “pre-emptive journalism” to an entirely different, Benjamin-Buttonesque level.

Questions raised by the original story still remain, even in light of this new “confirmation”:

  1. Why are the names of the army units incorrect?
  2. How was this operation carried out on the nights of September 20-21 despite there being a no-fly zone in place?
  3. The army released two express denials to this story. How “highly placed” are The Quint’s sources?
  4. Today, both the Pakistani military as well as their media have condemned the strikes. Given that the story claimed that the number of casualties could be as high as 200, one would think there would be hue and cry raised then and not a week later.

If nebulous phrasing is all it took to confirm a story, journalism would be significantly easier for the rest of us.