INDIA Alliance Boycotts Journalists, Sparking Debate About Press Freedom

On September 14, 2023, the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a coalition of 28 opposition parties, declared a boycott of 14 journalists and news anchors. This unprecedented move has sent shockwaves through the Indian media landscape and has sparked a heated debate about the role of the media in a democracy.

The INDIA alliance has accused the boycotted journalists of bias against the opposition, spreading misinformation, and engaging in hate speech. The journalists have denied these allegations, and many have condemned the boycott as an attack on press freedom.

The boycott has implications for both the journalists and the media industry as a whole. For the journalists, it could mean a loss of income and exposure. For the media industry, it could lead to self-censorship and a decline in the quality of journalism.

The boycott also raises important questions about the role of the media in a democracy. Is it the media’s job to be objective and impartial? Or should the media be free to take sides and advocate for particular causes?

This article will explore the boycott in more detail and discuss its implications for the journalists, the media industry, and Indian democracy as a whole.

The Declaration

On the 14th of September in 2023, a landmark announcement shook the Indian political landscape. The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) – a powerful coalition of 28 opposition parties – declared a boycott of 14 journalists and news anchors, sending shockwaves through the nation. The boycott will include not sending representatives of the alliance to appear on shows hosted by these journalists, nor inviting them to any political events of the coalition.

The list of journalists includes:

  • Arnab Goswami (Republic TV)
  • Navika Kumar and Sushant Sinha (Times Now and Times Now Navbharat)
  • Sudhir Chaudhary and Chitra Tripathi (Aaj Tak)
  • Aman Chopra, Amish Devgan, and Anand Narasimhan (News18)
  • Rubika Liyaquat (Bharat24)
  • Gaurav Sawant and Shiv Aroor (India Today)
  • Prachi Parashar (India TV)
  • Aditi Tyagi (Bharat Express)
  • Ashok Shrivastav (DD News)

The INDIA alliance has accused these journalists of bias against the opposition in their coverage. They have also alleged that these journalists have spread misinformation and hate speech.

The boycott has been met with criticism from the BJP and the media industry. The BJP has accused the INDIA alliance of trying to silence dissenting voices. The media industry has said that the boycott is an attack on press freedom.

The INDIA alliance has defended its decision, saying that it is necessary to boycott journalists who are spreading misinformation and hate speech. They have also said that the boycott is not intended to silence dissenting voices, but rather to encourage these journalists to be more responsible in their reporting.

It remains to be seen how the boycott will impact the journalists and the media industry in India. However, it is clear that the INDIA alliance is serious about its concerns about the state of the media in India.

Decline of Press Freedom in India and Its Effects on Media Diversity

India’s position in the global press freedom ranking has dropped by 21 places since Prime Minister Modi took office, now standing at 161st out of 180 countries, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF/RWB).

Journalists who criticize the government often end up in jail and face harassment on social media by supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which focuses on Hindu identity and holds significant political influence.

Last year, a well-known broadcaster called NDTV, which was one of the main voices of criticism on television, was acquired by Gautam Adani, a close associate of the prime minister. This development was seen as a sign of decreasing variety in the media.

RSF expressed concern over this takeover, stating that it undermines media pluralism in the country.

Amit Malviya, who handles the BJP’s social media outreach, viewed the boycott of targeted news anchors positively. He encouraged them to take pride in it and wished them strength.

Apoorvanand, a professor of Delhi University, took to the pages of Al Jazeera to draw attention to the insidious nature of television channels that spread hatred and discrimination against minorities. He warned that such programming is a dangerous poison, threatening to corrode society with its prejudice and bigotry.

He mentioned that unfortunately, children in India are exposed to these biased messages not only through television and phones but even within their own families.

INDIA Bloc Clarifies Non-Cooperation with Certain Journalists

Congress leader Pawan Khera stated on Saturday that the INDIA bloc has not boycotted 14 journalists; instead, they have decided not to cooperate with them. Khera emphasized that this decision is not permanent and if the journalists on the list realize that their actions are not good for India, INDIA Alliance leaders will attend their shows again.

He mentioned that while they are free to do as they please, INDIA chooses not to support what they perceive as wrongdoing. Khera stated that these journalists are not considered enemies, and there is no hatred towards them. 

Another Congress spokesperson, KC Venugopal, highlighted the vital role of media in protecting democracy and highlighting government mistakes. He expressed concern that certain media individuals support the government while undermining the opposition. Venugopal referred to this as sponsored journalism for the PM Modi-led government, which led to the INDIA alliance’s decision.