Monday, June 30, 2008

Hoax news spins into a story on police inefficiency

penpricks, in the past, has exposed the lack of ethics and professionalism in the industry. Although largely limited to Goan media, it is a blog I would recommend to media watchers. penpricks sent out a hoax email with the intention of exposing media sensationalism. Siddharth Varadarajan picks up the story. He has nothing to say about journalists or editors but blames the police who are mere bystanders.

Firstly, this hoax email was not sent to expose police fabrications but was aimed at highlighting what is a well known fact about Indian media -- lack of journalistic standards. Secondly, that major and reputed media establishments have fallen for a hoax story with dead giveaways is an indicator of the deplorable standards of mainstream media in our country. Siddharth Varadarajan ignores these two main points. Instead of lamenting on the state of media, he links this vaguely to police and terrorism. He then devotes more than 20% of the article to lambasting the police.

It is no excuse that we must accept this hoax story because we accept the police versions on terrorism cases. The motivations and compulsions in this hoax email and police narrations are entirely different. Also, considering the pathetic nature of mainstream media, the police might have a valid reason to mislead the media and feed their voracious appetite for sensationalism rather than tell the truth. Siddarth Varadarajan, by comparing police narrations to an email hoax, is consciously and deliberately undermining the anti-terrorism efforts by the police.

On the whole, Siddhart Varadarajan displays a classic example of "I can draw this conclusion given any set of data" attitude. He avoids flogging his own sheep, labels the police as beast and flogs the beast. A coward and a bloody hypocrite.

The Hindu : Opinion / News Analysis : Stories that are too good to check
For though the ‘Johann Bach’ story was outlandish, it was no more so than the reports regularly put out by Indian police departments about the arrest of terrorism suspects.

It is easy to laugh at the gullibility of reporters and editors in the ’Bach’ case but is our profession any less gullible when it uncritically regurgitates improbable, unverified and unverifiable details provided by the police in virtually all terrorism cases? Do any of us ever stop to ask how the police is able to reveal intimate details about a suspect’s prior movements and associations within hours of arresting him? One of the country’s worst kept secrets is that the police admit to having arrested a suspect days and sometimes even weeks after first taking him into custody. During this period of custody, the suspect is worked over and only after there is nothing more to extract is his “arrest” announced to the media. More often than not, the suspect will be paraded before photographers and journalists who will faithfully note down every ’fact’ provided to them by the police. Some of these ‘facts’ may well be true; but in accepting them at face value, that too from a source whose tendency to distort and mislead is legendary, are we really all that different from the victims of Perus Narpk?


Anonymous said...

Looks like this fellow Siddarth Varadarajan has some kind of space quota to fill up. Or he is stupid. The Desi media falling into a trap and police handling the media on terrorist issues are entirely different subjects. Almost all the "stars" of the Desi media have been exposed as idiots and imbeciles in this "Bach the Nazi" story. Let Chindu just admit this fact and move on. Keep police bashing for another day.

Anonymous said...

Praveen Swami who specialises in pseudo-analysis, particularly of Kashmir issues, has exposed himself again.

Piety, paranoia, and Kashmir’s politics of hate

Praveen Swami

He pretends to find faults with the jihadis and their supporters. But, the Chindu mask can not hold on for long.

So, we have this: "For the most part, commentators have cast the conflict as the outcome of the former Governor S.K. Sinha's aggressive advocacy of Hindu chauvinist interests...". Of course, we know who the commentators are. The pseudo-secular media and the JNU jola wallahs.

"Fears of (Muslim) religious-ethnic annihilation have again surfaced." This should be the best joke uttered by Swami. Everyone knows that it is the Hindus who have been annihilated in Kashmir.

Look at this gem: "Hindutva helped the Islamist project along. Decades of pogroms — most recently in Gujarat — gave credence to claims that Muslims are not safe in India. Kashmiri Muslim students and businessmen often encounter discrimination..."

Somehow you have to drag in secular key words like pogrom, Gujarat etc. (which will eventually get you an award or half from some dubious foreign NGO).

While Praveen Swami takes care to blame Togadia, mercifully he has left out Modi.

If readers think that Praveen Swami has gone insane, then they can not be blamed at all.

Anonymous said...

Actually I think the two are connected. Vardarajan is a pseudosecular sonofagun and looking always for clever arguments to use against the Hindus but the point is valid -- that precisely because you are used to not verifying claims made by your sources like policemen will you fall prey to goanese nazi prank.

Dirt Digger said...

Aah good ole indeterminate gender Sidd. I'm missing his weird posts on this blog. Somehow backed his way into his professor gig and now drops some trash on the newspaper.
Chindu's cowardly in hiding their columnists from their readers.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, i really hate SV, think's he is too clever johlawala.

Anonymous said...


Hi guys, we thank all of you for dropping by and taking time to comment... We've been running this blog as an underground forum for critiquing the media in Goa for more than a year now. Your comments will keep the fire going...
Starting now, we're running the first of the three part series on how the media manipulates news.
How the media houses manipulated the information we had furnished in the Perus Narkp pressnote we provided, to pass it off as their own, attributing it to 'sources'.
This is a malaise in most investigations conducted by the media. While in a lot of cases hiding a source is necessary, this licence is often abused by the media to peddle spurious reports. If you guys can, just think back, re-read/watch the media coverage of the Scarlett Keeling or Arushi murder over the last few weeks. Analyse what the media has said in the light of 'Nazi-gate'...
Think back how the media regularly covers these police encounters stories or those 'terrorists apprehended on the eve of independence or republic day' stories. We've been there guys. It never happens like the cops tell it. Siddharth Vardharajan rightly calls it poppy cock. Over the next three parts we have decided to dish our pricks awards to the media houses which fell for this Johann Bach con. The harder they bit, the more prick points they get...

So, here goes fellas...


3 pricks out of 10
To their credit, the Deccan Herald stuck to the press note. It did not deviate from the ‘facts’ mentioned in it. Looks like they approached this story the old school way... The kind of way journalism that used to be done in the times when the internet was non existent and phones were a luxury. There was no effort on part of the DH to even contact the local authorities to verify the details mentioned in the press note. This, inspite of the fact that DH is a paper headquartered in Karnataka, the state where ‘Bach’ was apprehended according to our Perus Narkp press note. The distance between Khanapur and Bangalore is not much. And yet no efforts were made by them to check up facts on this story. The newspaper is a household name in Karnataka did real bad no that front.


9 pricks out of 10

The Calcutta Telegraph appeared to go schizophrenic once we made the prank public. The newspaper almost bungee-jumped into the story with a striking graphic charting Bach’s journey across the globe, before he landed in Goa. This is the newspaper, which has lied the most. They added such fibs to the already fake press note, its not funny. Allow us to present a few examples.

1) The press note we had sent, never did mention that Bach escaped from Bardez, Goa to Khanapur, Karnataka in a taxi. Telegraph made this up.

2) We never said that the German Chancellor’s Core (the damn thing does not exist) had contacted the Intelligence Bureau saying that it wanted to trace an Argentinian passport holder. Telegraph made up this fact too.

3) Our press note did not mention that Bach -- an old German, had told an Israeli tourist couple at a rave party to having liquidated Jews. Telegraph made up this fact too.

4) Telegraph also claims that Bach was arrested at Anmod ghat, a fact not mentioned in the note we had circulated.They created this fact.

5) The world map graphic mentioned nations like Canada, Argentina, Bulgaria and Yemen as some of the places which Bach traveled in after his escape from Berlin. That’s fine, cause that’s we said in our Perus Narkp press note. Now alongside Yemen, Telegraph guys have put in the word ‘unconfirmed’ in brackets, to convey the impression to the readers that ‘phew… man we’ve confirmed Bach’s presence in all other countries except, Yemen… hope you guys don’t mind his yet-to-be-confirmed Yemen’s stint. We tried, but could not ascertain it'. The bloody liars.

Telegraph has without a doubt fibbed its readers the most. These guys have actually attributed this story to sources, another blatant lie. How can these sources explain a sequence of events with such graphic details, when the event itself hasn’t happened?

This isn’t a news story fellas, this reads like a ‘lulla’by filed by Telegraph’s Anil Budur Lulla. Kya Lulla bhai, itna imagination hai to script writer bano yaar, journalist nahin.

We have another bone to pick with the Telegraph over its follow-up. After promising to apologise to its readers, if they got the facts in the case wrong, the newspapers follow up is very misleading.

The follow up is another pack of lies. In a hasty cover-up, Telegraph lies through its teeth when it says that the press note carries a group photo of Johann Bach with other young SS officers. Guys, you’ve seen the copy of the press note in the last post right? You’ve seen the picture we’ve sent. The old gramp… So what pic are these guys talking about?

Telegraph claims that it had received information from sources in the Intelligence Bureau about the Bach operation, before they filed the story? So where were the quotes? Where were the details?

They have blamed the Intelligence guys for not providing them with the right information. But what’s important is that these guys have not admitted that it was a mistake. They have not apolologised to their readers for furnishing them with rubbish to read.

Instead what Telegraph has done is source a long barreled gun and fire it all the way from Calcutta from the shoulders of one R Auradkar (Inspector General, Northern Range) who says this. “Auradkar, however, said he would not like to dismiss the news stories as the result of a rumour or a prank, as suggested in certain blogspots.”

The dumbasses at Telegraph. Although they’ve been caught with their pants down, all they seem to be doing is covering their rear, when it’s their exposed nuts and bolt that they should be worried out.

To be noted guys... although the newspaper maintains a ‘could-be-hoax-maybe-true’ line, they have deleted the page, which carried the original story from their archives. What’s that police investigation dictum guys, ‘A criminal always returns to the crime scene’. Telegraph did just that and tried to wipe out their prints off the cookie jar.


5 pricks out of 10
The two papers have carried this story on pretty identical lines and have attributed the information to 'sources'. In fact the writer Iftikhar Gilani has pre supposed that the German intelligence agencies had tied up with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). In the press note we had only stated that it was the Ministry of Home Affairs folks from the Government of India, who were on the case. Guess it’s quite likely, that a Pakistani newspaperman would shout ‘RAW’, even when he scoops up a spoonful of uncooked rajma-chawal from a food stall behind the Raisini Road Press Club of India office.

Another fake detail, which the writer Gilani mentions in his story, is that the ‘Bach’ would be flown to Mumbai, before being taken to Germany. We never said, but seems like his sources did ;)


7 pricks out of 10
The editorials staffers in this newspaper need a good thorough spanking. When their bluff was called by penpricks. These guys at the New Indian Express called us ‘mischief mongers’. But we’ve been called a lot of things, by a lot of people and institutions, we glad accept this brickbat, as a compliment to our expose.
The NIE in its initial story claimed that after it received the information about ‘Bach’, it cross checked and verified the information from their sources. They also claim that us pricks had also sent the same press note to the authorities at the same time.

We would like to clarify here that we had sent the press note only to journalists and media houses. There is no truth the comment made by NIE that we had also tipped off the cops about the ‘Bach’ capture. But heart of hearts, maybe NIE had wished we had done that.

Now we have one question to ask the NIE chaps here.

If these guys had taken to pains to verify and cross check facts. Why did they not quote anyone on this story. Not single guy has been quoted, who’s admitted to the incident. The only chappie they’ve quoted is Superintendent of Police Hemant Nimbalkar who categorically says, he does not know about any such incident.

There are more questions to be asked about the NIE coverage?

Where did they source the information about Bach being in the German government’s 'most wanted list'? Has this been said on the basis of an official document? Where is it? If some authority has told them this, then why haven’t they quoted the authority? What’s the need for being so secretive about a ‘most wanted list’? Aren’t such lists public information? India’s Central Bureau of Information has its most wanted list available online for all to see? So where did NIE source this information from? Tell us guys? Looks like its the NIE which is mischief mongering in this case… It is these guys who have virtually manufactured facts to suit their ends.

Ok now for another loophole in the NIE story?

How can these guys claim that ‘Bach’ announced his intentions to sell his piano through an AD? Its not in mentioned the press note? So where did this ad part come from? An ad in an English daily? Fertile boy… as fertile as the black soil of Khanapur.

Another point to be made. These fibbers at NIE also claimed that their sources told them that Perus Narkp had passed on the Bach lead to the Interpol which in turn passed on the information to the MHA, government of India? Oh really? Sources again… NIE sources are like Frederick Forsythe, Colin Forbes, Leon Uris, Jack Higgins all rolled into one.

Rich very, very rich imagination.


2 pricks out of 10

Frankly we expected worse from Times of India. But looks like they came off pretty well. Initially they must have been shell-shocked when they realized that they missed the story. Thankfully there was an element of restraint in the way they reported the affair, quoting the release consistently. These guys also got Karnataka home minister on record, who claimed he did not know about the incident.


5 and a half pricks out of ten

For The Asian Age, it took two bylines to churn out three paragraphs of pure fiction.

And we have a problem with Messrs Bhaskar Hegde and Naushad Bijapur. Come on guys, you could have atleast credited our Perus Narkp press note. All these two chaps appear to have done is glean info from the press note and credit it to their sources in the intelligence... Damn you guys… Jis thali se khaoge usi mein chedd….

Apart from creating a chase drama, there’s another interesting element in the copy. Like the Calcutta Telegraph, The Asian Age too mentions that Bach was arrested at Anmod… Where the f…. does this Anmod come in from guys? Sure its on the way to Belgaum from Goa, but its not mentioned in the press note… Why are they obsessed with Anmod then?

(Coming up next, a close look at the coverage by Indian Express, and other national media followed the stories which appeared in Goan newspapers)