What is it to be a Journalist in Modi’s Era?

Last updated on Dec 31, 2019

Posted on Apr 5, 2019

In the chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate, three journalists have been mentioned – including Shekhar Gupta and Manu Pabby – as taking bribe from the arms dealer Christian Michel to tone down the criticism and say good things about him.   That is why articles like these come up – How Narendra Modi has almost killed the Indian Media or The peril of being a journalist in Modi’s India.

The world for the Indian journalists changed when @narendramodi became the Indian PM. How and why? A journalist shares the details of what it is to be a journalist in Modi's era. Click To Tweet

These are the journalists who try to define the nation’s viewpoint on how things are.  Of course, ever since Narendra Modi became the PM, the journalists have been angry with him and said all sorts of things about him and his ways.  Sometimes directly, but many times obliquely but clearly.

So what gives?

Here is an interesting admission of one journalist, Ashok Shrivastav on how things changed for his colleagues when Modi came versus other Prime Ministers.  The change in the “junket perks” was so tremendous that it was bound to impact those who had grown on a life of entitlement.

So you see, the Black Label in the room (courtesy the Foreign ministry), the bar in the press center, the food in the press center, the bar and the food on the PM’s plane.  The free alcohol to-go after the junket.  And finally the time to enjoy the place as opposed to working throughout the day.

Here is an article which explains the same thing:

The accompanying journalists are not taken abroad for the PM’s trips at the government’s expense. They have to pay for their own accommodation at the hotels selected by the MEA. The accompanying journalists cannot select their own hotels and the organizations they are working for have to shell out the lodging charges at the rates settled by the MEA. There is no scope for bargaining with the MEA-settled rates or the scribes reaching out to the designated hotels for negotiating prices.
The reason for this is that the government cannot allow a situation where a journalist, accompanying the Prime Minister, stays in a sub-standard hotel. Moreover, the hotel selected for the media contingent also houses a media center, fully equipped with enough number of computers and ISD phones, free of charge.
Technically speaking, the accompanying media has to pay for their food and drinks, though traditionally all previous prime ministers, cutting across the party lines, have ensured that the journalists get free food. Every evening during the entire length of the PM’s foreign trip the government makes sure that liquor flows freely for the tired journalists after a grueling day of work which normally extends to 12 or even 14 hours, entailing traveling to different venues of the PM’s engagement and attending briefings.

The entire routine and life changed.

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