A Change of Heart

I have always had a degree of admiration for the “Indian Express“.

It was one of the few newspapers which dared to stand against the Congress during the infamous Emergency (1975-77). The editorial page of the publication was left blank for three days as a sign of protest against the Emergency. When so-called tigers like the Shiv Sena were bowing their heads low before the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian Express had the courage to stand up for the freedom of the press. It was the standard against which other newspapers were judged.

It seems that things have changed nowadays at the Indian Express, though. Yesterday’s edition carried a report about suspected Indian Mujahideen kingpin Sadik Sheikh. Sheikh was arrested in November last year after the Delhi blasts.

A video recording of the statement given by Sheikh to the police was made, and apparently obtained by the Indian Express.

The Indian Express has a copy of the video recording of Sheikh speaking in custody, during which he talks about his role in organising six blasts across the country in a span of five years as well as the shootout outside the American Center in Kolkata in 2002.”

Apparently, Sheikh had a change of heart after reading the stories published in the Indian Express about the family members of those killed in the Mumbai blasts of July, 2006.

However, the other terrorists did not.

“The group got emboldened after the blasts. Atif became very aggressive and would say we should explode more bombs. Before 7/11, blasts would happen every 5-6 months. But after I had a change of heart I started avoiding Atif. I did that until March and there were no blasts during this period.

Sheikh’s ‘change of heart’ did not last, though, and he

goes on to say that he succumbed to Bhatkal’s pressure and the group started planning for the Ahmedabad blasts in March 2007. Besides the Ahmedabad blasts last year and the 7/11 blasts, Sheikh also talks about his role in the Gorakhpur blast in May 2007, the blasts in courts in Uttar Pradesh in November 2007 and the Jaipur and Delhi blasts last year. “

So much for the tender-hearted terrorist’s change of heart.

I truly do not understand what the reporter wants to convey here.

That we should not punish Sheikh because he has now had a ‘change of heart’?

Or maybe that the way to avoid further terror attacks is to publish human interest stories about the victims and their families?

Maybe they are saying that we should not bother about building up our military capabilities against further attacks, when there is such a simple remedy?

Perhaps we should send some reporters to Pakistan, to teach them how to combat the Taliban through news reports?

I think that the unhealthy competition between the print media and the news channels is lowering the standards of both.

What do you think?

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20 thoughts on “A Change of Heart”

  1. Your last sentence encapsulates the problem that is afflicting the media. May be free market is not such a great idea at all times, in all fields, particularly the media. When the business demands that something must be done to beat intense competition, it is all but impossible to be the flag bearer of ethics.

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  2. I agree to that, and have came across many examples of double standards of newspapers. Perhaps reporting, just like other fields, has just become a business. It would be worth mentioning that this time the information and broadcasting ministry has got 85+ applications for new news channels. Emotional needs are perhaps just now business potentials.I would like if you could have a look at this. http://preaction.blogspot.com/2009/02/newspaper-padha-karo-beta.html

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  3. Vinodji- Yes, that is true- ethical practices do take a beating because of this type of intense competition.R.K.- I will read the post you have mentioned.Bones- The whole tone of the article was, that we should be grateful that because of Sheikh’s change of heart (due to the Indian Express stories) we had respite from bomb blasts from July 2006 to March, 2007.I usually admire the comparatively balanced reporting in this newspaper. Maybe that’s why this report annoyed me so much.

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  4. I think the story of Sheik resembles the Movie “Black and White”. (But the character “Shiek” escapes in Movie”) Whatever it may be a person has to be punished for what he has done. And punishment is not only because the criminal is forced to change his criminal mind and to become good human to society but also to discourage the motivated or to be motivated criminal people in the society. And act like terrorism is not at all to be considered as non-punishable as the cause of which is non human which has to eliminated from the mind of the person and also from mind of people who are with it. So, he has to be punished and should not be given any consideration.Regarding the media and its values, the media has lost its credibility. Biased, Speculated TRP oriented news, opinions are the only thing that media is doing now. The reporters, journalists in past were used to respected as high moral people who speaks the truth and fights like a warrior with his pen as sword. Now the pen is replaced by computer key board and the truth is replaced by Marketable manipulated matters, but they are still warrior only in the world of “Media Business”.

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  5. Manju, yes indeed a worrisome trend for the media both print and electronic. If such heart-rending tales have touched and transformed terrorists, it is truly amazing, if true. One cannot rule it out though it sounds unbelievable. In any case where is the question of pardoning such a heinous crime?

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  6. The competition between electronic media is so sickening ! The terrorist attack at Mumbai was an example! When dead bodies were shown, saying ‘we got these exclusive pictures for you’ ! ‘And you saw it first time here’Where are we headed ?!?!

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  7. Pangala Nagendra Rao- I completely agree that the media has lost its credibility and only engages in speculation and biased reporting. It is difficult to believe completely anything that is published in the media today.Gopinathji- It is possible- though not probable- that Sheikh was transformed. My objection is more about the suggestion in the article, that some bomb blasts were prevented because of the newspaper stories. The reporters seem to be congratulating themselves without any real cause.Kavi- “Where are we headed ?!?!”- Good question.Unfortunately, no answer is in sight.

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  8. Few days back I got this link http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/02/03/i-hate-bloggers/ Later now a young boy Ajith being sued by Shiv Sena for only owning a orkut community with unknown named comments in it hating Shiv Sena. He has been charged with criminal case and the boy is still 19 year old!! And also all are aware of Chetan Kunte V/s Barkha incident where how a blogger is sued by people who shout for freedom of speech. It seems all are not able to tolerate the popularity, reach, exposure of blog sphere. The media in particular is not at all ready for open opinion posting on blogs which are against its own money making business. But still we can not be stopped!!Of course I do not say every blogger is doing the right thing in his blog. For them the Ajith’s case and the Chetan Kunte case should be discourageuous one.This may be out of topic but I am not able stop myself from telling this here!!

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  9. Pangala Nagendra Rao- I agree blogs are becoming popular and have great exposure. But I have seen a lot of irresponsible blogging as well. I think bloggers should self-regulate more.Kislay- You are right. It is sad to see the newspapers going the same way.

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  10. That is just a dumb article…it doesnt deserve to be published in a school magazine forget a newspaper like IE.The Journalism of today has no standards left.

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  11. do u really think hard core terrorists have a change of heart? permanently? i am not sure they do. and can we pardon them just like that? it doesnt sound very fair to me. after all the devastation they cause, they have a change of heart and al ther past actions are pardoned?the war between the two types of media is sickening. the bbay terrorist attacks that had the media fighting for each bit of news, each pic and each video shot and wat a mess that created.

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  12. Media scares me these days. Just recently a cousin of my husband’s who is an IFS was wrongly portrayed by electronic and written media. He just got a phone call from the channel 1 hour before airing the news. Finally the minister had to issue a statement in support of the cousin and things have started to die down but those were some harassing hours for entire family. How easily media can try to tarnish your name!

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  13. Indyeah- Journalistic standards are low- I just hope they do not come down to the level of the television news channels!Mandira- This sems to be what the reporter is suggesting…Solilo- How true, the media can tarnish your name easily and people believe what was first written, even if the truth later comes out.

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  14. everything is online these days. buying newspaper is luxury for me – but sunday afternoons is best spent with heads buried in newspapers. However I have found one good use of newspapers – it keeps us warm during winter as we fall sleepy while reading them !

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