Hafta letters: Ethics of suicide reporting, the democratic right to protest, coverage of science

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta letters: Ethics of suicide reporting, the democratic right to protest, coverage of science
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Hi Newslaundry,

I'm a loyal subscriber for the past two years and absolutely love Newsance and Tippani. Also a big fan of Hafta and Charcha and the Sena projects, most of which I try to fund. My favourites are Manisha, Anand, Abhinandan and Mehraj.

One of the best parts of Hafta and Charcha is that I get to know about good news articles or books. This has really enhanced my reading habits and book collection.

I'm a little bit annoyed because you guys let Chetan Bhagat pitch his book and emphasised how he always gets unfair hate, which sort of made me go ahead and buy his latest book. I'm not a big intellectual, but I'm actually appalled by the writing, and couldn't read beyond the first 50 pages. I think his books are still only for first- and second-year engineering students.

Well, I guess it's a lesson learnt.

Keep up the good work guys, and maybe try to include more ground reports.

Thanks

Namit Saxena

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Dear NL Hafta team,

As TV news sinks to new lows, the quality of content on NL reaches new heights. I must compliment your team on excellent properties like TV Newsance, NL Tippani, NL Hafta, NL Charcha and a whole host of other ground reports that speak to a journalistic work ethic that is rapidly hurtling towards extinction in India. NL has been able to conclusively prove that a highly questionable “business case” of a subscription-based model can be made to work even in India with the right amount of passion and some amount of nudging “mufatkhors” into becoming paying subscribers.

With regard to the discussion in Hafta 297 on the Supreme Court verdict on protests not being allowed for indefinite periods in public areas, I do not agree with Abhinandan's seemingly rational argument on why protesters should not be allowed to inconvenience others. I feel the right to protest is far more important that we realise. Imagine if our freedom fighters had protested in some obscure corner of the country — what impact would it have had? I think as long as protests are non-violent, they are a democratic right and must be accommodated. I think a government’s response to protests largely indicates how it looks at its citizens’ rights and the current Supreme Court judgement will have very serious ramifications. It also encourages the administration to take action in such cases and not wait for the court to intervene. An immediate example of the same was the treatment meted out by Mamata Banerjee to the planned BJP protest led by Tejasvi Surya in Kolkata. I may not agree with Tejasvi Surya’s politics but I know he has as much of a right to protest as I do.

As a society and as a country, we seem to be testing the limits of our social fabric. This has been building up for decades possibly but the politics of the current ruling dispensation has been a catalyst in changing it — forever, but not for “good”. The Hathras case, an innocuous video ad by Tanishq being trolled, etc, are testimony to how the lynch mobs are now literally at our doorsteps; I mean any one of us could be next and we will find our friends, colleagues, the news media, cheering them on.

Take care and keep up the great work.

Regards,

Asif Shamim

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Hey panel,

I was randomly searching for something and somehow ended up on Hafta 108 where the panel discussed when Kangana hit back at Karan Johar, where everyone celebrated what Kangana did, which is fair as she did the right thing then, but only Abhinandan called her out for being hateful and sort of unstable. Well, jump back to 2020, the joke is on the rest of the panel.

That's all!

Hardeep Asrani

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Hello Abhinandan,

I am a doctor and a surgery resident, to be precise.

Missing Mehraj's commentary, he has been absent from Hafta quite a bit these days...

I am an atheist and my family is regular religious. Regular in the sense: they easily ignore and follow Islamic rules and and how it suits them.

After the Paris beheading incident, I tried to initiate a conversation in my family group, that we should acknowledge the violent history of Islam. But most of my family was quick to say, "Wonder how offensive those cartoons were that he was so enraged to kill..."

This is what religion does to folks. It makes one defend the indefensible. I saw Rana Saifi tweet on the lines that they who are killing in the name of Mohammad are not Muslims at all...

Isn't this a great disservice to the common Muslims? The intellectuals should be teaching people tolerance, but they totally disown the criminals. Isn't it similar to how people don't condemn rape culture but are quick to disown the criminals as inhuman? Would love to hear the panel's views on this.

Thanks for your work.

Shehba Fathima

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Hi all,

Abhinandan⁩, apologies in advance for this call-out.

I have been a bit disappointed with your science coverage and the excuses given for it. Like the one you gave on Hafta this week. It seemed like the minute Ranga Uncle left, your science effort fell apart. I have felt your efforts in this particular direction have been lazy, to say the least. If you can’t do it, just say it’s not your core competence.

I say this more out of frustration than critique, really. Economics, science, policy and environment are areas where there is a gap that can be filled. I am sure you could find a writer like Vivek for the other fields. Hell, if not an article, a podcast. A crossover/collaboration with, say, a Pavan Srinath of Takshashila might help. Meghnad, Pavan, Vivek and a guest — wow! Peeling out different aspects — dream come true. For starters, picking the brains of Gagandeep Kang on Vaccines.

I would recommend you to listen to Pavan here.

Anyway, rant over!

Best regards,

Dhiraj

***

Hi Newslaundry,

I quite enjoyed your fiery panelist Ms Kiruba Munuswamy. This is the kind of voice that has been missing in Hafta for a long time. Most of the views of the panelists are usually coloured by an upper caste lens of looking at issues. The sharp contrast in how Abhinandan and Kiruba read the SC's observations on protest just shows how the same issues can be viewed differently based on their relative point of view. I have to confess I would have been convinced by Abhinandan's reading if not for the counter by Kiruba.

A constant complaint I have is how suicide is reported in the media. I heard several times, by both Manisha and Abhinandan, about the mechanism by which Mr Ashwini Kumar died by suicide. Suicide reporting need more sensitivity from journalists. The actual mode of suicide and the state of how the body was found is unnecessary information in a suicide report. Some of these details may trigger those who are contemplating suicide to actually go ahead with it. The media did this with SSR and many other celebrity suicides before that. Many news outlets have been embracing "died by suicide" instead of "committed suicide" which is a welcome change. No one commits suicide the same way no one commits a heart attack.

I expect better from Newslaundry and hope they change the way they report suicides henceforth.

I'm a regular listener of NL Hafta and also an ardent and copious consumer of Newslaundry content. Keep coming up with great content.

Best,

Dr Raghuraj Hegde

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