Whose story is it anyway? Times Now takes credit for Express chopper deal expose


Through Wednesday and Thursday, I kept going back to Times Now to assure myself that I had not been seeing things. And every time, hovering over stock images of the AgustaWestland AW101 chopper, I found this logo: 'Times Now Expose in March 2012'. Sepia-tinted helicopters whirled about a sepia Navika Kumar. None of them were the AW101 which has become infamous. Rather, they resembled the cheerful little choppers that the Phantom (Lee Falk, not McDonnell Douglas) favoured for travelling between the Deep Woods and civilisation. Meanwhile, the ticker crowed: 'Opposition quotes Times Now report'. And demanded to know: 'Why was Times Now report ignored?'

Maybe the channel itself felt ignored and insecure. This desperate bid to take ownership of the VVIP chopper kickbacks story was absurd because along with it, Times Now was running an interview of former Air Force chief S P Tyagi, in which he clearly associated it with The Indian Express. Channels like Sahara Samay were routinely quoting Express newsbreaks. Times Now neglected to mention that in this story, as in many others, print had outpaced television. Since moving images are more memorable than words on paper, TV frequently gets the credit after the event. But if Express hadn't broken the story and stayed with it – ably supported by Times Now and other venues, no doubt – there would have been no excitement for TV to feed off this week.

In that light, this bid for ownership is as bizarre as daylight robbery. As is a dramatic ad that the channel is running, in which it appears to take full and sole responsibility for putting the screws on Suresh Kalmadi, Ashok Chavan, Anil Bastawade and Agusta. It takes credit for having the chopper case "reopened", a case which was never really opened at all. Can any media brand take full ownership of any story these days, in such a crowded and fast-moving industry? Times Now's coverage seemed to be as much about the vindication of Times Now as the story itself.

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