Hafta letters: Police reform, questions on bias, NL's coverage of Hathras

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Police reform, questions on bias, NL's coverage of Hathras

Dear Newslaundry,

I wish to remain anonymous.

A proud subscriber from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thank you so much for being my prime source of reliable information in a time where the same is suffocated by the post truth. I just had a little request with all my ignorance about the science behind podcasts. Would it be possible to reduce the delay between the recording and uploading of the Hafta? I totally understand if it's not feasible.

Love all the content but salute to Manisha and her Newsance team for having to endure something so pathetic to create something near perfect.

Too much to say but I will conclude by just saying this: In this world of echo chambers, you know you are consuming something unbiased when you hear both Zafaryab Gillani and Suresh Chavanke accuse Newslaundry for being biased against them.

Regards

M

***

Hi NL Team,

I started my life in a small town in Uttar Pradesh and the first English book I ever read (apart from the school course books) was Chetan Bhagat's Five Point Someone, so I beg you to pardon my crass linguistic capabilities here. Also, I could only reach half of the word limit prescribed by Abhinandan because of my limited thinking capabilities and limited language skills.

Coming to the point: I totally believe that Chetan has the right to exist as a writer and sell his writing. You may even do interviews etc with him to give him a platform, and those unwilling can skip and not watch it.

However, seeing this guy on NL Hafta as an "intellectual" and guest was really heart-breaking.

He compared OpIndia and the Wire on your platform as being the opposite ends of the spectrums. The Wire certainly is more anti-establishment but is it an equivalent of OpIndia just from the opposite point of view? Well, you guys know more, so you decide! There could be a slippery slope from here. Warn us who we are seeing as the next intellectual on panel; maybe the next Big Boss winner or Anjana Om Kashyap.

A request: If you don't find a guest of decent calibre, it is simple. Do not bring one. I am happy listening to just Abhinandan, Manisha, Raman Sir, Mehraj, Anand and, of course, Jayashree (your new addition to the Hafta team). And to replace "such guests", you can simply read your better articulated subscriber letters, despite the word limit, which add actual value (unlike this letter of mine).

Thank you!

Aashu

***

Dear Team Newslaundry,

I am a regular viewer of your shows on YouTube. You guys are doing an amazing job at bringing out the hypocrisy of national news channels.

Today, I took your membership for a month, specifically because of the Hathras incident. That touched me on some different level.

I am from Kerala and I think your channel has a lot of potential to grow in my home state. So, I just wanted to convey my solidarity with you. And yeah, keep fighting the good fight. Thank you for doing what you are doing. Inquilab zindabad!

Jacob Modayil

***

Hello Newslaunderers!

I am not sure about the email on which subscribers have to send their mails. I'm anyway sending on this one. I hope it is correct.

I am Anamika, a doctoral student (finance and accounting area) at IIM Lucknow. I am a recent subscriber because being called a "mufatkhor" by Abhinandan repeatedly hurt my ego 😂😂😂😂

"Angrez apna lagaan.....NL apna hafta kabhi nhi chorta." At first I used to think that it was pre-recorded and played every time a new NL Hafta was uploaded because somehow Abhinandan manages to say the same exact words in the same exact tone in every video 😂😂😂

Abhinandan and Madhu have put together a great NL team that brings us real news. My personal favorites are Abhinandan and Manisha. Even though Abhinandan tends to have strong opinions and comments regarding a topic, but at the same time he is also accommodative of others' opinions. Manisha is doing a great job with the script and dialogues of Newsance. It's hilarious.

Since the Nobel Prize announcements are due to begin tomorrow (ie October 5) onward, I request the NL team to put together a series of videos regarding the winners and their contributions in their respective fields. It would be nice to watch a video with all the authentic information.

That's all folks! Take care.

Best,

Anamika Kumar

***

Hi Team

You all are awesome but Manisha deserves a superlative adjective for all you people do.

The verdicts regarding the Ram Mandir are as expected. My request to you is that please repeat and repeat what the truth was and is. Because many of the "Hindus" do not know the truth. One 1995-born boy was really surprised to know that Babar himself did not destroy the "Hindu" mandir and build the masjid.

Today, even if any of the Opposition (out of being bored of being idle🤔) tries to get involved in burning issues they are either physically or legally or ED-CBI-ly stopped. I really hope for a new Opposition to come up.

Thanks and regards,

Amrita.

***

Hi,

Thank you for featuring my email.

I used no capital letters, I used italics for what I read from your website. :)

Manisha, I think you were wrong, I do not pay for Alt News. I pay you. My message is from your link which did not talk about it. "You did not put out the whole transcript." I am not reading too much into it. I did not cover the rest of the media. There is a reason I am looking to you for news from you. I read your entire article. You should too.

Mehraj: Sorry, you were wrong, it said in the link I had sent "what Gavaskar likely meant". I am quoting from your link ("likely")! I was not making it up (maybe look at it).

Thank you for giving Nisha the time to defend my point. I am not one of those that is trying to say Gavaskar is a bad guy, as you have seen with my last email. My point was that his comments didn't deserve the light of day.

He made an unnecessary comment, and you guys are defending it. That is all I say about it. He is my hero along with Kapil Dev.

Your argument is actually from which part of my email? Manisha? My email said none of that. That he was a dick or any suck. I am not plucking anything out. I am just saying his comment wasn't in good humour. I am a fan of all of you and Gavaskar.

Also, thank you! I hope your niece joins a sport soon. It is quite a ride! Feel free to have her talk to me! :)

Regards,

Amita Pharshy

***

Some people wrote into Hafta about the panelists' silence on Mehraj’s comments about the violence in Islamic countries. The defence was that speaking at that point would not change his opinions. I don’t think people want you to change Mehraj’s opinions, but they do want you to register your disagreement and correct factual errors if there are any that you are aware of. I have noticed that Anand’s weak defense of government actions was similarly often not countered by other panelists, until recently when both Abhinandan and Manisha disagreed with him quite vociferously (this made me subscribe btw).

Anand is knowledgeable and a very articulate speaker but that does not give him the license to “whatabout”, and I feel the rest of the panelists don’t counter him (out of respect?). It was frustrating to see him defend the totally brazen acts of government with examples of the Congress doing similar things but being a “mufatkhor”, I was not entitled to complain.

In the last episode, Abhinandan commented, "bias is okay". He let Chetan compare OpIndia with the Wire. Does he really think a pro-government bias is okay? This is not my subject but I thought journalists are meant to ask tough questions to the government and must try to be as unbiased as they can be. Is that not the case? Did the Wire show the same level of pro-government bias during the Congress days?

I have a couple of requests/suggestions:

Can you please shuffle the panelists between Charcha and Hafta occasionally? Hindi listeners could do with some of Abhinandan’s flowery language. (I am sure you guys can speak better Hindi than Meghnad.)

Could you get politicians on Hafta? (sensible ones)

You are called left-leaning. I think you should get the likes of P Sainath or Prabhat Patnaik or anyone from Newsclick to show what left-leaning really looks like.

While I appreciate that you guys are doing a phenomenal job, in my humble opinion, the only way news (the fourth pillar of democracy!) can be saved is if people cared about it and rejected the Arnabs. Newslaundry will not save news and I don’t think it is their job. It does, however, cause me some pain when you guys keep claiming that. I am sure you guys have discussed this at length, but I have not heard any convincing argument. I am subscribing for my selfish reason. No greater good.

Thanks,

Kapil Sharma

***

Hi NL team,

Liked the discussion around Hathras and NL's coverage of it in general. One part I slightly disagreed with is the firing of the cops as an important step. Won't that just be a Band-aid on the problem? Cops won't always be so horrible but what Indians experience on a daily basis with cops is also horrible. For a few days, they will straighten up, and then continue with everyday harassment. And we keep waiting till the next outrageous incident happens.

Last I read, the Supreme Court asked for police reforms in 2006 which none of the states implemented in letter or spirit, or both. As some in the panel have done ground reports, I wanted to know their thoughts on why police reforms are not an election issue in India, like reservations or loan waivers. Police harassment impacts the oppressed groups everyday, shouldn't they be demanding reforms in that as well? Or have Indians just accepted that police harassment is a fact of life that cannot be fixed?

Prakash Iyer

***

Dear NL Team,

I had in an earlier email mentioned that in the past year, there were instances where caste angle was brought out in Hafta when it wasn't relevant.

Hathras case, however, was different. It is in instances like these that highliting caste of not just the accused (Dalit victim) but the caste of perpetrators and those in power becomes very relevant.

To that extent, I expected the Hafta team to delve more into the castes of the police, district magistrate, the key accused, the local politician, and the chief minister. It is important to highlight the same as a section of the media is now more keen than ever to puppet the narrative that caste is irrelevant in this case and in new India (as the party in power would like to perpetuate to keep the "Hindu vote" intact). It is a powerful narrative that has a strong following in upper caste, middle class people living in cities, especially the ones who may not have witnessed caste-based atrocities.

Ironically, the Hafta panelists prematurely felt that the case had brought the erstwhile sleeping TV media into action. It is Monday, October 5, and already the SSR case is back as a major headline. The demand for the narcotic test of the victim's family, as demanded by the alleged perpetrators, is being justified. Arnab and Republic have already carried out a sting claiming that there may not have been a rape and that the journalist had tutored the victim's family. Republic has done a show blaming the Congress for the same and IBN/others have headlines comparing Rajasthan with UP, claiming the former to be worse when it comes to rape cases. TV media has also found an Islamic terror angle (no surprise there) and a foreign hand. All that remains now is Pakistan and China.

It is no surprise that this narrative seems to be working already.

TV channels have already moved on, I hope responsible newspapers like Indian Express will continue to investigate further and so will Newslaundry.

***

Guys, you rock. Thanks for your work to keep journalism alive. Recently came across your platform. I can proudly say that I am no longer a muffatkhor. Love Tippani and Newsance.

Mehraj speaks less but every word he utters is worth its weight in gold. Abhinandan in one of the podcasts said that he had heard a very informative debate between Susu Swamy and Ram Jhoothmalani on the abrogation of Article 370, which I found completely devoid of facts and rationale on both sides. Would love to hear Mehraj's views on the debate (not on the abrogation of Article 370).

PS: I am not a Kashmiri.

Aman

***

Hi guys,

In the context of the US presidential debates and your discussion on it in the last Hafta, I would like to recommend a book by the American philosopher Michael Sandel called The Tyranny of Merit. The book offers some great insights into the rise of populism and Trump. I'm paraphrasing some of his observations in the book.

Trump's rise is partly a result of populist anger, humiliation, resentment and disempowerment of those left behind by sharpening inequalities and lack of upward mobility brought about by a highly financialised form of globalisation.

Liberal and centre-left parties not only failed to address rising inequalities but also often arrogantly dismiss protests against globalisation as tribalistic, closed, anti-immigrant, xenophobic and misdirected.

But these parties fail to acknowledge their own role in sustaining a system that disproportionately rewards the elites and punishes the poor, thereby absolving themselves of any responsibility. The current situation was not created by some inexorable force but is a result of how elites and mainstream parties have governed in recent decades.

Labour in the UK and the Democrats continued the market-led policies of the Reagan and Thatcher eras but also encouraged a highly financialised and technocratic form of globalisation.

Even Obama, despite his inspiring rhetoric and idealism, bailed out banks instead of holding irresponsible bankers accountable, while ordinary people lost their jobs and homes without any help from the government.

For far too long, these leaders have been preaching the benefits of free trade and globalisation. They valourise meritocracy, that anyone who works hard in the "land of opportunity" can make it. They forget that meritocracy is often a result of good fortune and contingent on how rich your family is. They ignore that instead of upward mobility, their policies have enabled elites to consolidate their wealth and power that are then passed on to their children.

In the 2016 election, Trump won two-third of white voters without a college degree, while Clinton won a large number of people with advanced degrees. This was reflected in the Brexit vote too.

Clinton's meritocratic hubris was displayed when she told a conference in Mumbai after her defeat: "I won the places that represents two-thirds of America's gross domestic product."

Apologies for the long mail. Continue your great work.

Nij

***

Hi NL Team,

We all are aware of the catastrophe that took place in Hathras. This incident revealed the true face of society we are living in and the government that is ruling us. Kudos to Newslaundry for showing us how real reporting is done without the backing of big media houses and on limited resources. It is good to see Newslaundry going mainstream from a niche.

Also, it's been a while since we have seen Madhu ma'am. When would she be back again? We are missing her a lot.

Also, as Newslaundry has such a diverse group of subscribers, you should start a Discord server. It would be great for exchange of ideas.

Keep up the great work

Regards

Yogesh Chandra

***

Hi Team NL,

I wanted to express the pride I felt from your coverage of the Hathras case. Kudos to Akansha and Nidhi on their reports. The unique contribution was the documentation of journalists' behaviour, how they drank from plastic cups and then littered them across the floor of the house. Would the same be done at an upper caste person's home? There are other reports that talk about how intrusive and insensitive reporters are being, but at least that is driven by the flawed news model. What makes them litter another person's house? Is it not their subconscious upper caste privilege?

Related to the case, I am curious to know what you think about the (illegally leaked) phone conversation between Tanushree Pandey and the victim's brother. Is this generally how a reporter talks to people off the record or is it better to be more formal? If possible, please do discuss how each of you would have conversed with the victim's brother if you were in Tanushree's place.

Keep up the good work and well done to all of us subscribers for subscribing.

Best,

Goonj Mohan

PS: I really liked the interview of Omar Abdullah too, he was very open and frank. Does Abhinandan know him from before or was it pure interviewing skills?

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