Friday, October 5, 2007

Reporter ‘told man to kill himself’

From The Times

October 2, 2007

Reporter ‘told man to kill himself’

Ashling O’Connor in Bombay

A television journalist was charged yesterday with abetting suicide after he allegedly persuaded a depressed businessman to kill himself and his family live on camera.

Officers in the northern state of Punjab intervened in time to stop Tilak Raj and his three daughters drinking poison on Sunday. But the case has highlighted the lengths an increasingly competitive Indian media will go to get a story.

The journalist, identified only as Vipin, had convinced the man that a choreographed suicide attempt was the best way to highlight his troubles after he lost a land dispute in court.

It is the latest in a series of incidents involving TV journalists distorting or fabricating the news amid a fierce battle for ratings. Last week a TV reporter in Delhi was charged with inciting riots after his exposé of a prostitution racket supposedly run by a mathematics teacher turned out to be a set-up.

Media analysts fear a slide in ethical standards in Indian TV, where the journalistic obsession is already categorised by the “three Cs”: cricket, cinema and crime.

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