Journalist says ‘sorry’ he played part in ‘character assassination’; apology after ThePrint’s story on Sarvjeet’s struggles.
New Delhi: A former Times Now employee, who claims to have put out the story on the alleged molestation of St Stephen’s student Jasleen Kaur, has now apologised (in a personal capacity) to the accused, Sarvjeet Singh Bedi, saying he is “ashamed” and “regrets” the episode.
The apology came soon after ThePrint published a story on Sarvjeet Singh’s struggles as proceedings in the case are yet to begin, with Jasleen not having attended a single hearing in the matter till date.
“Just read ThePrint article on the story of your case. I was very disturbed. I wanted to personally apologise to you for playing a part in your character assassination. I worked with TIMES NOW during the time of the incident,” the former Times Now employee wrote to Sarvjeet through Facebook messenger.
He added that it was “sad” that journalism had been reduced to “breaking stories” without verifying them. “Your case was one such. I was one of the first ones to break that story and I can’t tell you how much I regret it today,” he wrote. “I have been meaning to message you and apologise since the time I quit TV news. But reading the article today made me really sad. I am very sorry”.
Worked on the desk, says journalist
Speaking to ThePrint, the journalist said that he was on the desk in Times Now when he broke the story on TV.
“I felt extremely sorry about breaking that story, just because we wanted to be first. In this constant tussle to be ahead of other TV channels, a life was ruined,” the journalist, who did not want to be named, said.
“I could not apologise to Sarvjeet earlier because I was still working with the Times group. Today, when I read the story on ThePrint, I could not stop myself and wrote to him. The problem is about desk-driven journalism that I was a part of and I regret it,” he added.
He further said that “sensationalism” has completely taken over journalism. “Journalists have no time or patience to listen to the ‘other side’ or verify facts before running a story. The media today is no better than the Khap panchayat of Haryana, which pronounces a person guilty without a trial,” he said.
In his message to Sarvjeet, he further stated that even though he cannot bring back the time Singh has lost, he is ashamed of what he did. “I know my apology will not change a thing in court or bring back anything you’ve lost. I can’t even begin to understand how you must have felt and the hardships you went through, but I hope you please accept my apology. Sorry for everything!” he wrote.
Sarvjeet demands an apology from channel
Speaking to ThePrint, Sarvjeet said that he has no complaints with the journalist but demanded an apology from the channel. “The journalist was just an employee of the Times Group who was doing his job. It is the channel and its editor who should issue an apology,” Singh said. “They called me a national pervert, delhi ka darinda (Delhi’s demon) and what not. That was not the employee’s fault but an editorial call”.
Arnab Goswami was the editor-in-chief of Times Now at that time.
Sarvjeet later put a post on his Facebook wall, along with a screenshot of his conversation with the journalist, urging news channels to be responsible and verify facts before putting out stories.
“Agar duniya aap news channels ko dekhti hai to wo us news par belive kar lete hai. Ki aap jo sach hai wohi dikhate hain..kabhi kabhi who sah nahin hota.. log use sach mante hai..it is a req ki ehle sach pata kare..fir duniya ko dikhaye.. sirf TRP he sab kuch nahi hoti. (the audience believes what news channels show. So, the channels should verify facts before putting out a story; TRP is not everything,” he wrote.