NL Interview: Siddharth Varadarajan on UP police’s FIRs, press freedom, and media after corona

The Wire’s founding editor says ideology should not matter when it comes to fighting against the criminalisation of speech.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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On April 1, the Uttar Pradesh police filed two first information reports against the Wire and its founding editor, Siddharth Varadarajan. The news website has since explained in detail its position on the police complaints.

In this interview, Varadarajan and Manisha Pande discuss the sequence of events that led up to the FIRs and what it means for press freedom. Varadarajan explains the processes that the Wire follows to rectify an error in any article and how they stuck to it in this case by issuing a clarification. He says the FIRs may not have much to do with the wrongful attribution of a quote to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath. “I think what really got his goat, Mrutyunjay’s and his bosses’ was the fact that we were drawing attention to across-the-board carelessness by religious figures such as Mr Adityanath,” he adds, referring to Mrutyunjay Kumar, the chief minister’s media advisor.

Varadarajan goes on to say that when it comes to criminalisation of speech and media freedom, ideology should not matter. “My own views have been consistent in this matter.”

Manisha asks Varadarajan what he thinks of censorship in Big Media and the challenges that lie ahead for the media in terms of revenue generation. He replies that it may get rough for big media operations but this is a great time for smaller operations like the Wire, which runs on donations.

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