Social media has exposed fake stories published by Indian vernacular digital media. Dainik Bhaskar and Jansatta had published false reports about Qatar Princess Sheikha Salwa being caught having sex with seven men in London. The media websites that published this fake news credited it to British newspaper, Financial Times. However, there is no authentic record of Financial Times reporting about any Qatari princess’s sexual scandal. When AV tried to contact editors of both the news sites, one responded and said they had done the needful whereas other editor failed to respond.
Netizens had condemned the false reports published on websites and sought apology from respective editors. They also demanded a clarification from the editors for publishing fabricated stories. Many of them called editors and even trolled them on social media.
Deep Halder, Editor of DB post (Dainik Bhaskar group) said, “We carried this news after referring to the reports published in some two three news websites. We attributed the websites also. Later, we removed the links from our website after learning that reports were false. We apologised for the goof-up on the website.”
Vijay Kumar Jha, Editor of www.Jansatta.com (Indian Express group) remained unavailable for comment inspite of several attempts.
When we spoke to journalist Parvez Khan he said, “This is an example of bad journalism. Fake reports claimed that during the police raid, princess was found in a compromising position with seven men in a room in Excelsior London Hotel. The lady, whose photo has been published in the report is not Sheikha Salwa. She is Alia Al Mazrouei, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai based Mazrui Holdings. Media need to check facts before reporting about any story. They should refrain from publishing false stories.”
Mallik Shaikh said, “Qatar should seek legal action against newspaper agencies for trying to defame a dutiful princess who is the pride of the Arabic nation. Vernacular news websites have published fake news. Qatar citizens are known for following traditions and values in life. The government must ban such newspapers.”
Former Journalist Mohammad Anas appealed to people to call those irresponsible editors and seek apology for publishing fake news. His post went viral and editors were shamed.
When AV contacted Michael Lindsay, Editorial Assistant, Newsroom of Financial Times through email he replied, “We understand that the article mentioned by you was originally published on www.awdnews.com, which is not our website. The Financial Times is not responsible for false article published by AWD. Further, it is not the case that the Financial Times has published any such news report, or been involved in any such events, as are mentioned in AWD’s false article.”