On The Listening Post this week: how Indian media cover the so-called 'godmen' in the country. Plus, Mugabe and Zimbabwe's media. 

India: Godmen, con men and the media

India is dealing with the fallout from an unusual kind of protest that took place last weekend. Thirty-eight people were killed during a violent demonstration against the conviction of the leader of a religious sect for raping two of his female followers.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, one of India's so-called "godmen", has as many as 60 million online devotees, and last weekend's protest was not the first to turn violent in his defence. The reporter who first revealed Singh's sexual misconduct was shot dead shortly after the story broke. 

Singh is a flamboyant character who has used the Indian airwaves to build a one-man publicity machine, and his case has shed a light on how sect leaders are presented in the Indian media.

Contributors: 

Swati Chaturved, Author and journalist
Vineet Kumar, Media critic
Anurag Tripathi, Journalist
Srinivasa Prasad, Contributor, First Post

On our radar

  • A new law in China will require all web users in the country to verify their identities before commenting online.
  • Ukraine's government has deported three foreign journalists in less than a week, as it continues its crackdown on dissenting voices.
  • Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox stops broadcasting Fox News in the UK, as the verdict on the company's Sky takeover bid looms.

Mugabe and Zimbabwe's media 

As Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has seen his popularity wane over the years, he has developed a time-worn tactic when faced with criticism in the media: dust off the anti-imperialist credentials and deflect attention onto Zimbabwe's white former colonial masters inside and outside the country.

Mugabe's response to a recent incident involving his wife, Grace, in South Africa, was a case in point. When the South African press censured Mrs Mugabe for allegedly assaulting a woman in Johannesburg, the president countered by questioning why whites still wield so much power in South Africa.

The Listening Post's Nic Muirhead reports on Africa's oldest sitting president and the media legacy he will leave behind.

Contributors:

Ibbo Mandaza, Political analyst
George Nyrota, Former editor Daily News
Wendy Willems, Assistant professor London School of Economics

Source: Al Jazeera