Fooling the media

IN Regional Media | 01/05/2013
A photograph of the Assam Cricket Association secretary with film actors was distributed at a press meet.
TERESA REHMAN says the belated discovery it was morphed left the media red-faced. Pix- Bikash Baruah

What do you do when you want to spice up your press meet? Well, you can try new tricks. Assam Cricket Association (ACA) secretary Bikash Baruah tried this innovative ‘photo stunt’ to gain ‘publicity’ in the IPL season. The local media lapped up the contents of the press meet and the photographs Baruah distributed. On April 21-22, when local newspapers splashed a photograph showing Baruah sharing the dais with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, nothing seemed amiss.

The Telegraph carried a news item which quoted Baruah as saying, “I met KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone during the inauguration of the 6th IPL in Calcutta recently. The actors were quite impressed by our players’ performance in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy and expressed their interest in raising an outfit from this part of the country. They also enquired if any major business house of the region was taking any initiative towards raising an outfit for the IPL which, I honestly stated, we have never been approached by anyone till date.”

The Assam Tribune carried similar news on April 21: “The ACA secretary proposed to SRK and Padukone to finance a team from the N-E region so that players from this area get the opportunity to play in the cash-rich championship.

“BCCI officials along with the KKR owners have praised Assam for their laudable performances in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this year where they defeated mighty Mumbai in the semi-finals. SRK has shown a lot of interest in encouraging cricketers of the North-east region and if all goes well, we will get to stage IPL matches here and even have a team of the North-east. The cricket lovers of the region are as passionate about IPL as the rest of the country and IPL matches here will be a big boost for the format.”

However, there was a furore on April 29 when, based on a complaint lodged by the Freelance Journalists’ Association, the Assam Police registered a case against Baruah for allegedly tampering with a photograph to show himself with Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone and distributing it to the media. The police registered the case (No. 98/13) under Sections 120 (B)/419 of the IPC and Section 66(D) of the Information Technology Act 2000. The real picture was of Shah Rukh Khan talking to Saurav Ganguly in the year 2011, and Bikash Baruah had superimposed his photograph on Ganguly’s!

The Telegraph dated April 29 reported: “Baruah had distributed the photograph during an interaction with reporters on April 20, corroborating his claim that the Bollywood duo, who own Kolkata Knight Riders, had assured him of Indian Premier League matches in Guwahati, while expressing interest in raising an IPL team from the state. The complainant stated that news about how the photograph, which showed Khan (sitting in the centre) discussing something with Baruah against an IPL6 backdrop, while Deepika sat smiling on the Khan’s other side, was tampered with was already being reported and telecast on local media.

Baruah had claimed that he had met the actors during the IPL inaugural ceremony in Kolkata earlier this month. The actors, according to him, wanted to raise a team — Kaziranga Rhinos — from the state and Khan had readily agreed to project the Barsapara cricket stadium here as a home venue for KKR for the next edition of the tournament.

The Times of India dated April 30 reported, "Even Deepika's image was allegedly digitally superimposed on the original photograph to establish that she too attended the meeting with Baruah and SRK. The ACA secretary even told media that he had asked for the actors' support in forming an IPL team here in the North-east and added the duo reacted positively to the idea. Baruah also announced that SRK would visit the state in June to discuss the matter with the state cricket body's officials.”

Meanwhile, Baruah has gone on sick leave leaving the ACA red-faced. And journalists in the region learn another lesson – to verify stories and photos before publishing them!


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