To show good work, how Governments purchase the media (In the context of Yogi Government in Uttar Pradesh)

Cover photo of two articles that appeared in the same issue of the magazine

Cover photo of two articles that appeared in the same issue of the magazine

Rumours of buying of media abound. Readers are unable to decide whether to accept any news as true or not. This article highlights the hidden truth how, with a view to show their good work to the public and to minimize chances of bad press, State Governments and even the various Ministries in the Union Cabinet as well as the Information Departments of various political parties, purchase the editorial space of various publications.

Subject is the Yogi Government of Uttar Pradesh and the occasion was completion of 100 days of Yogi Government in the State. Allegation is that the editorial space of a prominent magazine was purchased by the Information Department of Government of Uttar Pradesh with a view to present the work done during the period in accordance with their wish. Why a magazine, with a handsome amount coming in its kitty, wouldn’t keep ethics and law at bay? (How laws were broken and ethics compromised, see in the forthcoming article). The magazine too allegedly presented the sponsored write-up in such a manner as if it was an editorial article.

Matter came to light when a prominent magazine of the country blundered in publishing two articles on the same subject in a single issue. 100 days of Yogi Government were completed. The magazine contacted a Delhi-based journalist to do a write-up each in Hindi and English on the performance of Yogi Government in the initial 100 days. The point-wise accomplishments of the Yogi Government were given to the journalist to prepare the two articles. It is being said that when the articles were ready, the magazine took it to the Information Department of the Yogi Government, so as to sell the articles. It is rumoured that the deal was settled in several lakhs of rupees and the magazine published both the articles in 4 pages each of its English and Hindi editions, without mentioning anywhere that it was an advertisement.

Something that nobody could see till the two articles got published was that the Lucknow correspondent of the same magazine wrote an article on 100 days of Yogi Government, which too got published in the same issue of the Hindi edition of magazine in which the article allegedly purchased by the UP Government was published. Whereas one article was highlighting Yogi Government’s accomplishments, the other article by the Lucknow correspondent was presenting the Government’s failures. Two separate articles in the same issue of a magazine on one subject were clearly revealing the entire story.

Delhi-based journalist who wrote the first article says that the magazine kept him in dark and never told him that the articles that he was writing for them were being sold at a price. He says that he was only provided with background information and was asked to prepare articles on the basis of that information. Neither was it ever written alongside the article that it was actually an advertisement and not an editorial piece. But coming of two articles on the same subject in one issue were enough to raise suspicion. The designer too had its role in highlighting the difference when he used similar photos and colour schemes for both the articles. When the matter was investigated further, the truth was starkly staring at the face.

Two differently articles on one subject unknowingly published in the same issue of the magazine are clearly revealing how same subject can be viewed by two people in two different ways. This is the reason why various Governments are constantly engaged in trying to influence powerful people in the media to their side. For this, they often go to the extent of compromising with ethics and breaking the law.

See how two journalists writing in the same issue of a magazine see the accomplishments during 100 days of the Government differently. On one side is an independent journalist who presents the accomplishments from his point of view whereas on the other hand there is an article based on the information provided by the State Government which was allegedly given space within the editorial segment, owing to the power of money. If media is on your side, it becomes so easy to present a positive picture of what you have been doing!

Published under the heading ‘Charcha zyada, kaam kam’ (More talk, less work) on page 44 in the 17th July issue of the magazine, the article by the Lucknow correspondent says: “Hundred days of Yogi Government have brought failures more than achievements. The Yogi Government has not been able to formulate any concrete strategy to fulfill its election promises.”

The second article published on page 24 of the same issue under the heading ‘Sankalp path par poore hote vaade’ (Promises getting fulfilled on the Resolution Path), says: “That Uttar Pradesh is progressing at a very fast pace would be too early to say now but there is no second thought in saying that the pace and deftness shown in doing work by the young Yogi Adityanath within 100 days of coming to power clearly reveals that the backward state of Uttar Pradesh is ready to shed its backwardness, poverty, goondaraaj and corruption and is on way to becoming a progressive state where the aspirations and expectations of the people are being met as Yogi Adityanath has taken the responsibility of doing so on his shoulders.”

In the article ‘Charcha zyada, kaam kam’, the Lucknow correspondent of the magazine writes: “Even on prior occasions too, the Chief Minister in his meetings has been bragging about his work and future plans. But contradictory to his claims, the situation of law and order in the State is such that not only the opposition, but the party leaders, office bearers and the ministers in the Government also agree that there is a need to pay attention to this.”

On the other hand, the allegedly sponsored article by the Information Department of Uttar Pradesh says: “The Yogi government has taken many important steps to improve the law and order system in the State. Keeping in view the rapid rise of cases of rape, eve-teasing and domestic violence in the State during last few years, BJP had given a prominent space to this matter in its electoral manifesto. In an attempt to curb such incidents, the State Government not only announced the formation of anti-Romeo squad, but also gave orders to policemen deployed for safety of women not to indulge in inhuman activities… Likewise, the Chief Minister also directed to run a state-wide campaign to free all public places from anti-social elements and to prevent incidents of molestation, indecency, indecent exposure or vulgar comments made in front of women and adolescent girls… He also issued instructions for indiscriminate and strict action against criminals, smugglers and land mafia… All this so that goondaraaj and corruption is put to an end in the State resulting in the formation of a transparent and fearless state.”

The independent article written by the Lucknow correspondent of the magazine sees the situation in a different light: “Law and order situation in the State has become a problem for the Yogi Government. Immediately after him becoming the Chief Minister, the incidents of crime had decreased but as the days passed, cases of crime increased and many such incidents came to light, so much so that people have started saying that the condition of law and order in the Yogi Government is by no means any better than it was during the preceding Akhilesh Government.”

Describing the situation during the 100 days of Yogi Government, through the words of former Cabinet Minister Abhishek Mishra, the Lucknow correspondent of the magazine writes: “Hundred days have passed merely in talks and tall claims. Crime in the State is on increase. The ministers in the Government claim that many roads have been re-laid, but I do not see any improvement in the streets of the Capital Lucknow.” Whereas, the article with title ‘Sankalp path par poore hote vayde’ says something opposite: “This period, already being fondly referred to as Yogi-raj by his friends and well-wishers, is remarkable because of slew of initiatives taken by the new government in Uttar Pradesh, all aimed at the common man… Slew of important decisions and instructions, aimed at good governance and better administration, have become the hallmark of these initial days.”

Similarly, two articles appearing in the same issue of the magazine talk of steps taken towards sugarcane development in different light. One writes: “With an aim to provide quick benefit to the sugarcane farmers, within just 100 days, Yogi Government ensured payments worth Rs. 21 thousand 570 crore rupees to the sugarcane farmers.” Contrarily, the other article writes: “In its election manifesto, BJP had promised to give sugarcane farmers 100 percent of their due. On 23rd March, Yogi had given one month time to mill owners to pay the dues, but till now 100 percent payment has not been made. Even now farmers are to be paid Rs. 3000 crore, out of which the mill owners themselves owe Rs. 2500 crore.”

See also the last few lines of the two articles: “One says that “It is time now that Yogi gears up his acts and instead of merely giving speeches, focus on fulfilling his promises. There is no denying that not only the bureaucracy but also some of the leaders of his own party may be wishing for the failure of Yogi.” The second article writes: “Many more examples of exemplary work done by the CM can be given, but for space constraint. Factually speaking, CM Yogi has started the UP innings by delivery. And he is making preparations and setting the stage to work for social, cultural and economic development of Uttar Pradesh, and to re-establish its lost glory through good governance.”

It is not a big issue that opinions of two people differ on the same subject. But if one is an independent article and the other is an advertorial which is presented as an independent article, then it is imperative that the eyebrows get raised. As far as the readers i.e. the public are concerned, it is for them alone that all these games are played!

Aziz Haider

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