Here’s a clever move:
- Indian TV station NDTV, and specifically broadcaster Barkha Dutt, is criticised for coverage of the Mumbai attacks. As Gaurav Mishra describes it:
“Bloggers were scathing in their criticism of Barkha Dutt’s sensationalistic coverage of the 11/26 Mumbai terror attack, accusing her of broadcasting sensitive information about the position of hostages and security troops, sensationalizing the news coverage, and being borderline hysterical, in general. The National Security Guard, the Naval Chief, and the Information & Broadcasting Ministry had also criticized Indian news television coverage of the crisis. This groundswell of criticism prompted mainstream media to join in (The Hindu, The Indian Express) and forced Barkha Dutt and NDTV to go on the defensive (LiveMint).”
- Amid this “groundswell of opinion”, NDTV appears to threaten one of those critics – the blogger Chetan Kunte – with legal action.
- Kunte pulls his blog post and replaces it with a retraction statement (image above) that sounds as if it’s been dictated by someone else’s lawyers.
- Indian blogosphere erupts in outrage, and either links to a Google cache of that withdrawn blog post, or republishes it entirely. Not to mention critically discussing the TV station’s coverage once again.
Lesson to news organisations: your viewers are your distributors now. Suing them is not good management. Nor is it good for freedom of speech – something you might find useful yourselves in the future.