Face flak for not showing lawyers under attack

The battle lines were clearly drawn on Friday, at least on regional television channels. On the one side, “rowdy advocates” — as the media termed them — had taken law into their hands by thrashing journalists, while on the other, the media aired its anger at being targeted with journalists being roughed up in the line of duty.

Post-noon, all the TV channels used black montages for their live tickers. For their studio background, as a symbol of protest, they showed in a loop footage of journalists being dragged on the street in the court premises by advocates. All the journalists who appeared on screen wore black bands tied on their forehead and their arms.

Blacked out screens

All regional television channels even blacked out their screens — flashing a message condemning the actions of advocates — for two minutes, from 8 p.m. to 8.02 p.m. in the evening.

The pitch was indignant, with TV anchors questioning the lawyers' action and the failure of the police to act swiftly.

“The media has every right to cover events and it is our duty to report. What makes you lawyers think that you own the court premises?” asked a TV journalist, addressing a lawyer who appeared to be supporting his colleagues' actions.

The other side

Later in the day, several eyewitnesses confirmed that journalists, or those posing as journalists, were seen venting their ire and seeking “revenge” by attacking advocates emerging from the courts. Many of them were not part of the mob that attacked journalists in the morning. A senior lawyer, who spoke to The Hindu, also questioned the media reportage. “They completely blacked out what happened later in the day when advocates themselves were targeted. That is clearly against journalistic ethics,” he pointed out.

Asked why television news did not report this side of the story, a reporter from a leading channel said the police had prevented journalists and camerapersons from entering the premises. Hence, incidents that occurred in the latter part of the day were largely not reported, another journalist conceded.

Tension between journalists and lawyers had been brewing ever since the unflattering media coverage of the lawyers' agitation on January 17 which had led to a seven-hour gridlock in the city's central business district.

This story has been corrected for a grammatical error.