The Wire
Type of site
Journalism, news, analysis
HeadquartersFirst Floor, 13 Shaheed Bhagat Singh Marg
Gole Market
New Delhi, DL 110001
India
OwnerFoundation for Independent Journalism (FIJ)
Editor
URLthewire.in Edit this at Wikidata
CommercialNo
Launched11 May 2015; 8 years ago (2015-05-11)

The Wire is an Indian nonprofit news and opinion website.[1] It was founded in 2015 by Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, and M. K. Venu.[2][3] It counts among the news outlets that are independent of the Indian government,[1] and has been subject to several defamation suits by businessmen and politicians. In 2022, one of its reporters fabricated several news stories, and was then fired.[4]

History

The Wire was founded by Siddharth Varadarajan, after he was removed from his position as editor at The Hindu.[5][6] It began operating on 11 May 2015; Varadarajan worked with Sidharth Bhatia and M. K. Venu who had initially funded the website. Later it was made part of the Foundation for Independent Journalism, a non-profit.[3] The Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation has provided The Wire with funding as well.[3]

Varadarajan claims that the publication was created as a "platform for independent journalism",[7] and that its non-corporate structure and funding sources aim to free it from the "commercial and political pressures" which supposedly afflict mainstream Indian news outlets.[7][1][8] The Wire's founding is construed to be a result of and a reaction to a political environment which has "discouraged dissent" against the present Indian ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.[1]

According to one of the founding editors, the founders’ basic value is to stand for the right of the individual against the normally overbearing nature of the State. He further added that the founders are socially and economically liberal in their approach.[9] Varadarajan said in an interview that he (and by extension The Wire, as asked in question) in all matters of journalism is guided by the Constitution of India.[10]

In 2020, The Wire joined Progressive International's Wire– a coalition of progressive media outlets from around the world.[11][12]

Content

According to a 2017 article of the Mint, the websites coverage primarily focused on the topics of development, foreign policy, political economy, politics and science.[7] Karan Thapar's regular show The Interview with Karan Thapar covers current affairs and events on The Wire.[13]

Reception

Dheeraj Mishra, Seemi Pasha Win Ramnath Goenka Awards for 2019 Reports for 'The Wire'.[14] Three journalists working for The Wire, have won the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards.[15][16] Neha Dixit, reporting on extrajudicial killings and illegal detentions, won the CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2017, Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Mediapersons in 2016, and the Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize.[17][18][19][20][non-primary source needed] A story published in the Columbia Journalism Review in late 2016 identified The Wire as one of several independent and recently founded internet-based media platforms-a group that also included Newslaundry, Scroll.in, The News Minute, The Quint and ScoopWhoop-that were attempting to challenge the dominance of India's traditional print and television news companies and their online offshoots.[1]

Siddharth Vardarajan was awarded with the Shorenstein Prize in 2017; jury member of the award Nayan Chanda mentioned Vardarajan's independent web-based journalism-venture and distinguished body of well-researched reports to be an epitome of journalistic excellence and innovation.[21] In November 2019, The Network of Women in Media, India criticised The Wire for providing a platform to Vinod Dua for making fun of an allegation of sexual harassment against him.[22] A December 2019 article by Dexter Filkins of The New Yorker, noted that The Wire is one of the few small outfits and the most prominent (other than The Caravan), to have engaged in providing aggressive coverage of the current Indian Govt ruled by BJP at a time when mainstream media is failing to do so.[23]

In September 2021, The Wire received the 2021 Free Media Pioneer Award given by the International Press Institute for being 'an unflinching defender of independent, high-quality journalism'.[24]

Meta/XCheck Story

Main article: Tek Fog

On 10 October 2022, The Wire alleged Meta (formerly Facebook) provided Amit Malviya, the head of the Information Technology Cell of the incumbent ruling party in India, with the ability to delete any post on Instagram bypassing the usual content moderation system.[25] The article says Amit Malviya had these privileges since his account had the XCheck[26] tag. Meta categorically denied and called the Wire's reporting “false” and said it was based on “fabricated evidence”.[27] Later the publication went on to publish a purported "internal message" from Andy Stone, the Communications Director, expressing frustration at the leak of Malviya's privileges. A further detailed report was also published which featured email-communication from two anonymous "experts" verifying the integrity of Stone's email and a semi-redacted video of an in-house moderation tool attesting to Malviya's privileges.[25]

Soon, numerous flaws were spotted in the evidence that pointed to fabrication and skeptics, including former Facebook whistle-blowers, began to cast doubts.[25][28] Afterwards, as both the anonymous experts denied involvement with The Wire, the reports were subject to an internal review and retracted by The Wire; later the publication conceded its failure to verify the evidence and accused the reporter, Devesh Kumar, of deceit.[29][30][31] The developments also brought back focus on the publication's earlier investigative coverage of an app called Tek Fog—supposedly used by the ruling party to spread disinformation and harass dissenters, that Kumar had been responsible for. This story also was removed from the site,[32] and The Wire issued a formal apology, admitting to have rushed the story without having it double checked independently.[33]

Bloomberg and Editors Guild of India also later retracted their coverage of Tek Fog, which was solely based on The Wire's reporting.[34][35] The Guild in its statement, urged newsrooms 'to resist the temptation of moving fast on sensitive stories, circumventing due journalistic norms.'[36] The Guild also called the lapses by The Wire 'condemnable' in a subsequent statement.[37]

Litigation

Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP in the Rajya Sabha and venture capitalist, filed a defamation suit in a Bangalore civil court after two articles suggested a conflict of interest between Chandrasekhar's role as a legislator and his investments in the Indian media and defence industries.[38][39] The court eventually ruled in favour of The Wire.[40][41]

Jay Shah

In 2017, Indian home minister Amit Shah's son Jay Shah filed a criminal defamation case against the editors of The Wire for publishing an article titled The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah, noting irregularities in Jay Shah's business dealings and claiming that a company owned by him increased turnover 16,000 times in the year following the 2014 Indian general election.[42] The article alluded to [43][44] After various court mandated injunctions and appeals to higher courts, the Wire legal team withdrew a plea before the Supreme court in August 2019.[45][46] As of August 2019, the trial on the case was still pending, with Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra ordering that the trial be completed "as expeditiously as possible".[47][48]

Adityanath government

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Wire came under the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath government's crackdown on journalists reporting on administrative failures and humanitarian crises.[49][50] This was a part of a pattern of escalating press freedom violations in Uttar Pradesh,[51][52] using of the Epidemics Diseases Act of 1897 to pressurise journalists.[53][50] Between April 2020 and June 2021, four separate FIRs alleging false information were lodged by the Uttar Pradesh Police against various journalists working for the news outlet, including against one of its founding editors.[54] According to Reporters sans frontieres, the cases had no tangible evidence and amounted to harassment through litigation.[55] In September 2021, the Supreme Court of India responding to a petition against the FIRs, extended a 2 month protection from arrest to the journalists at The Wire over press freedom concerns but declined to quash them, instead directed the petitioners to approach the Allahabad High Court.[56][57][58]

Bharat Biotech

In February 2022, Bharat Biotech filed a defamation lawsuit of 100 crore (US$13 million) against The Wire and its editors over 14 articles that had reported on the pharmaceutical company and Covaxin, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by it.[59][60] Citing that the articles would lead to vaccine hesitancy,[61] a district court in Rangareddy, Telangana passed a temporary, ex parte injunction to take down the articles.[62] As of March 2022, the court was scheduled to hear the matter.[60]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Chaudhry, Lakshmi. "Can the digital revolution save Indian journalism?". Columbia Journalism Review. No. Fall/Winter 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  2. ^ "About Us". The Wire. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Kohli-Khandekar, Vanita (2 November 2015). "Online portals seek a new face of journalism". Business Standard India. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  4. ^ Scroll Staff (30 October 2022). "'The Wire' files police complaint against researcher Devesh Kumar over Meta articles". Scroll.in. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  5. ^ Choudhary, Vidhi (8 May 2015). "Former editor of 'The Hindu' to launch news website". Livemint. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  6. ^ Chaudhry, Lakshmi. "Can the digital revolution save Indian journalism?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  7. ^ a b c Choudhary, Vidhi (8 May 2015). "Former editor of 'The Hindu' to launch news website". livemint.com. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Jay Shah files criminal defamation case against 'The Wire'". The Economic Times. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  9. ^ Girija, Sreekala (1 March 2020). "Political Economy of Media Entrepreneurship: Power, Control and Ideology in a News Media Enterprise". Nordic Journal of Media Management. 1 (1): 88. doi:10.5278/njmm.2597-0445.3651. ISSN 2597-0445.
  10. ^ Venkatesh, H. R. (25 November 2020). "What about Scroll, The Quint, The Wire and The News Minute? | BOOM". www.boomlive.in. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  11. ^ "The Wire". Progressive International. Archived from the original on 5 June 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  12. ^ "Wire / Agencia - Coalición de medios de comunicación progresistas de Progressive International @ProgIntl". Revista Común. Archived from the original on 27 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Exclusive News Stories by Karan Thapar on Current Affairs, Events at The Wire". The Wire. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  14. ^ "Dheeraj Mishra, Seemi Pasha Win Ramnath Goenka Awards for 2019 Reports for 'The Wire'". The Wire. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  15. ^ "Awards 2017". Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Ramnath Goenka Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Awards 2016". Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Ramnath Goenka Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Neha Dixit Wins Committee to Protect Journalists' International Press Freedom Award". The Wire (India). 17 July 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Neha Dixit Wins Chameli Devi Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist for 2016". The Wire (India). 1 March 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Neha Dixit". International Center for Journalists. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Neha Dixit, India. International Press Freedom Awards". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  21. ^ "The Wire's Siddharth Varadarajan wins Shorenstein Journalism Award". Outlook. 11 April 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  22. ^ Sites covering this episodes are:
  23. ^ Filkins, Dexter (2 December 2019). "Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi's India". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Indian news site The Wire to receive 2021 Free Media Pioneer award". IPI. 1 September 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  25. ^ a b c Roth, Emma (17 October 2022). "Everything you need to know about The Wire's retracted reporting on Meta". The Verge. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  26. ^ "Who Does Facebook's VIP 'XCheck' Program Protect in Community Standards Shield?". Wayback Machine: Newsweek. Archived from the original on 6 November 2022. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  27. ^ "Meta slams Indian media expose on Facebook favouring BJP as 'outlandish'". The Independent. 13 October 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
  28. ^ Agrawal, Aditi. "Explained: What's the Wire vs Meta fight all about?". Newslaundry. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  29. ^ Roth, Emma (26 October 2022). "The Wire blames retracted Meta story on "deception" by staff member". The Verge. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  30. ^ Agrawal, Aditi. "Meta vs The Wire vs Devesh Kumar: The story so far". Newslaundry. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  31. ^ Team, N. L. "The Wire issues apology, cites 'deception by a member of our Meta investigation team'". Newslaundry. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  32. ^ Team, N. L. "Wire-Meta saga: Editors Guild withdraws Tek Fog remarks, Economist points to 3 lessons from 'own-goal'". Newslaundry. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  33. ^ "The Wire Editorial: To Our Readers, an Apology and a Promise". The Wire. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  34. ^ Pollard, Ruth (31 October 2022). "Bloomberg Retracts Column on Tek Fog". The Washington Post.
  35. ^ Service, Tribune News. "Post Wire apology, Editors Guild retracts statement on Tek Fog, urges due diligence in reporting". Tribuneindia News Service. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  36. ^ Scroll Staff. "Editors Guild retracts Tek Fog remarks after 'The Wire' takes down its articles". Scroll.in. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  37. ^ Bureau, The Hindu (2 November 2022). "Editors Guild urges police for 'impartial' probe into complaints against The Wire". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  38. ^ Sharma, Betwa (8 March 2017). "Rajeev Chandrasekhar Says He's Fighting A Congress-Media Conspiracy". Huffington Post India. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  39. ^ "In highly unusual move, Bengaluru court orders The Wire to remove articles on Rajeev Chandrasekhar". Scroll.in. 7 March 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  40. ^ "Why Court Dismissed BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar's Plea Against The Wire". The Wire (India). 14 March 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  41. ^ "Order urging The Wire to pull articles on Rajeev Chandrasekhar vacated". Bar & Bench. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  42. ^ Singh, Rohini (8 October 2017). "The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah". The Wire (India). Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  43. ^ PTI (9 October 2017). "Jay Shah files criminal defamation case against 'The Wire'". TheHinduBusinessLine.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  44. ^ Kumar, Raksha (2018). "Criminal Defamation : An effective legal gag on free speech" (PDF). India : Pursuing truth in the face of intolerance. London: PEN International. p. 11.
  45. ^ "Jay Shah files criminal defamation case against 'The Wire'". The Economic Times. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  46. ^ "Court lifts stay on The Wire's story on Jay Shah". 23 December 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2018 – via newslaundry.com.
  47. ^ "Jay Shah defamation case: SC allows The Wire to withdraw plea". The Indian Express. 28 August 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  48. ^ "SC allows The Wire to withdraw appeal in defamation case filed by Jay Shah". livemint. 27 August 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  49. ^ Ghoshal, Somak (1 July 2020). "Open book? In India, where people are forced to download a tracking app to get paid, journalists are worried about it also being used to access their contacts". Index on Censorship. 49 (2): 53–55. doi:10.1177/0306422020935803. ISSN 0306-4220. S2CID 220443706 – via SAGE Journals.
  50. ^ a b Mukherji, Rahul (2020). "Covid vs. Democracy: India's Illiberal Remedy". Journal of Democracy. 31 (4). Johns Hopkins University Press: 91–105. doi:10.1353/jod.2020.0058. ISSN 1086-3214. S2CID 226601805 – via Project MUSE.
  51. ^ Kumar, Akanksha; Singh, Martand (7 July 2020). "Missing from headlines: How the Adityanath regime is going after local journalists". Newslaundry.
  52. ^ "Uttar Pradesh starts criminal probe into The Wire editor for alleged 'discord' during COVID-19 lockdown". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2 April 2020.
  53. ^ Parischa, Anjana (12 June 2020). "India's Laws Used to Pressure Reporters Covering Pandemic". Voice of America.
  54. ^ Rashid, Omar (25 June 2021). "The Wire, journalist booked in Uttar Pradesh". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  55. ^ "Three Indian journalists could be jailed for nine years for tweets about video". Reporters sans frontieres. 17 June 2021.
  56. ^ Kakkar, Shruti (8 September 2021). "Supreme Court Grants 2 Months Protection To 'The Wire' Journalists From 3 UP Police FIRS; Asks Them To Move HC For Quashing". Live Law.
  57. ^ "'The Wire' and three of its journalists get two months interim relief from SC in FIRs filed in UP". Scroll.in. 8 September 2021.
  58. ^ "SC Grants 2 Month Protection to 'The Wire' Journos Against UP Police FIRs". The Quint. 8 September 2021.
  59. ^ "Court Orders The Wire To Take Down 14 Articles on Bharat Biotech in 100 Cr Case". The Quint. 23 February 2022.
  60. ^ a b Tiwari, Ayush (24 February 2022). "Bharat Biotech defamation case: A day after court order, Wire says no notice yet". Newslaundry.
  61. ^ "Court directs The Wire to take down 14 articles critical of Bharat Biotech, Covaxin". The News Minute. 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  62. ^ Sanghi, Jagriti (24 February 2022). "100 Crore Defamation Case: Telangana Court Directs The Wire To The Down Articles Against Bharat Biotech In An Ad-Interim Ex-Parte Order". Live Law.