ANI accused of biased reporting on behalf of BJP
The Indian newswire service, Asian News International, is under heat for alleged mis-reporting following a letter by former Indian Army officers who had protested against the misuse of the defence services for electoral gain.
The Telegraph reports that the ex-servicemen have protested to Thompson Reuters for the politically-slanted mis-reporting on a sensitive issue. ANI has previously been accused of having a political slant and a pro-establishment stance.
Reuters is an investor in ANI and has a content partnership with the agency. Read The Caravan's profile of ANI, as published in its magazine here.
The ex-servicemen had written a protest letter to President of India Ram Nath Kovind against the misuse of the defence services. The letter had originally been signed by 156 veterans and the Telegraph reports that the list has grown to 422 signatories as of 24 April 2019.
ANI had reported stories claiming that some of the ex-servicemen signatories had denied to the newswire that they had signed the letter. This, Reuters has been told, is untrue.
The ex-servicemen say that ANI has acted at the behest of the BJP to create a bias during the ongoing Lok Sabha election.
Read the full-text of the letter here:
Dear Mr Adler, Mr Friedenberg, Ms Carpenter, Mr Austin and Mr Ivory-Harte,
My name is Maj Priyadarshi Chowdhury, SC (Retd) and I am writing on behalf of a group of retired officers of the Indian armed forces, to share our concern and anger over the recent conduct of Asian News International (ANI), with which Thomson Reuters has both an investor relationship and strategic partnership over editorial content.
The context of this complaint is ANI's recent reporting on our petition, signed by over 150 military veterans, and addressed to the President of India, to protest the appropriation of the armed forces into political campaigning.
In this context, serious questions arise about ANI's motives and practices in reporting the alleged denials by some senior officers that they had ever signed the letter.
Two recent stories lays bare the matter:
ANI Tried to Discredit Veterans’ Appeal to President – but Proof Was a Click Away
I would be grateful if you read it to the end, including the brief note on ANI's National Security Editor and his public political stance. We believe that ANI has acted at the behest of India's ruling party to manipulate quotes and defame our honourable intentions. In our opinion, ANI's conduct tantamounts to being perfidious with a view to influence the ongoing elections, in India, in a biased manner.
In order for us to plan our further action, could you please inform us as to:
1) How Thomson Reuters evaluates the editorial practices of its strategic partners, to the end of assuring journalistic balance and editorial quality?
2) Whether Thomson Reuters evaluated or examined the practices, political affiliations, and reputation of ANI prior to expanding its strategic partnership in June 2018?
3) Regarding the above, if so, what was Thomson Reuters' finding about ANI? If not, on what basis does Reuters evaluate the quality and validity of editorial material received from its partners?
4) Whether Thomson Reuters believes that ANI's motivated misreporting of our genuine and Constitutional appeal meets its own standards for editorial propriety. It is upto Thomson Reuters to evaluate whether such conduct by an investee company meets your mission statement of "....we do business according to the highest standards of ethical and responsible conduct."
Thomson Reuters commands respect and trust the world over, and in recognition of this, we hope for a reply addressing our concerns.
Maj Priyadarshi Chowdhury, SC (Retd)