In India where doubts on the credibility of journalists and accountability reporting, confounding the conversation with “alternative facts” and fueling social media disdain for fact checking is argued. Indian media houses too have their own challenges. These days most of the news is received through social platform. Tweet of politician or post on facebook or any such medium becomes breaking news. You don’t need fact check or investigations. Due to the technology boom, we hardly see investigative journalism. The reporters are seen hanging around minister’s houses and in parliament or press conferences.
Journalist Ravish Kumar of NDTV said, “I get many stories in a day, which can be very crucial. Our nation has very important issues to be discussed, but when some out of league stories come, we don’t have that kind of staff who can go and perform the fact check. Getting authentic stories with facts and figures and truth needs extraordinary investigation.”
Earlier, there were large numbers of media outlets that used to focus on fact-checking and political accountability however, modern media is totally opposite. Fact checking also has entered into the broader public consciousness. The political favouritism permits the audience to accept anything good that is shown about the party they support, and anything that is offending to those whom they don’t support.
Vipin Gaur, Editor Country and Politics said, “This is an extremely important time to be a journalist of his own choices. Never has the watchdog role been more important. But these days the actual watchdogs are thrown out of banner and running their portals on social media. Their independence is impressed on micro blogging or youtube. The irony is that now media questions the opposition but not the ruling party.”
Fact checking faces enormous challenges. The election season saw a proliferation of fast-spreading misinformation concocted to bolster or attack candidates, and “fake news” designed for profit. In this era the magnitude of news comes under question-senior journalist Rajeev Ranjan said.
As journalism has shrunk, the size of media houses to coming to a size. They have known faces everywhere but less investigators and special reports.
Political journalist Nilesh Khare said, “In my organisation we have a programme called “Viral Sach” in which we take stories from social media and verify the facts. For that we have a dedicated team that specialises in that. Talking about the other media houses, most of the media firms are now undergoing financial crisis. They mostly avoid going on the field and discuss the topic sitting in the office. They also save time by doing this.”
Nowadays several media houses don’t hire reporters to carry out an investigation and make stories by relying on social media. There is a lack of team to carry out fact verification. As a result of this, many crucial stories go unreported. Media houses have become overdependent on social media for publishing news without checking the authenticity of the news.
A senior journalist from a reputed media house said, “There was a story of a lady who worked from North East that says that one of the politicians raped her. However, we did not cover the story as we didn’t have a number of staff to reach the place and verify the facts. So we dropped that story. As going against powerful people, we need enough staff to investigate. Previously also many people had investigated and published the stories, however, it did not reach to the government. So now these journalists are blogging and using their private social media platforms to reach the public. This is one of the reasons why nobody is taking a risk of investigating the stories these days.”
Many times the information available on social media is fake but still media houses publish them thereby tarnishing their image. After publishing the story media houses receive flak from citizens questioning the authenticity of the story. Nowadays authentic news does not even find a column in newspapers. Today journalists are bound to their media houses who bow down to political parties and power holders.