The Listening Post

Cobrapost sting: Indian media outlets and paid news

An investigation exposes Indian media giants willing to peddle propaganda as news. Plus, the US global media operation.

On The Listening Post this week: An undercover sting exposes the Indian media giants willing to peddle propaganda dressed up as news, for a fee. Plus, the US government’s global media operation.

Caught on camera: Indian media outlets and paid news

In India this week, newspapers and television channels were conspicuously silent on a story that should have been major news.

Twenty-seven news outlets were the target of a sting operation – a reporter from Cobrapost, an investigative news site, posed as a Hindu nationalist, offering to pay media executives to publish some polarising, religious propaganda in advance of next year’s general election.

The media executives seemingly accepted the offer. 

The Listening Post‘s Meenakshi Ravi reports on the ethical debates in India around both paid content disguised as news and hidden camera operations.

Aniruddha Bahal, editor-in-chief, Cobrapost
Chitra Subramaniam, cofounder, The News Minute and editorial adviser, Republic TV
Angshukanta Chakraborty, editor, The Leaflet
Raju Narisetti, founder, Mint newspaper

On our radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Johanna Hoes about the continuing trend of journalists found dead in Mexico; and the real case of fake news, the resurrection of Russian reporter, Arkady Babchenko, who was reportedly killed.

Journalism or propaganda? US state-sponsored media

Last November, the Russian-sponsored media outlets, RT and Sputnik News were forced to register as foreign agents in the US at the orders of the Department of Justice.

The requirement came after allegations that the organisations formed part of the Kremlin’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But what about the flip side of that: namely, the US government’s own state-funded media operations?

It is undeniable that outlets like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty do provide reliable reporting in countries with limited press freedom. However, like RT and Sputnik, they have also been accused of producing propaganda dressed up as news at the service of their sponsors in the Department of State.

The Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips reports on whether US state-sponsored media are producing journalism or propaganda.

Amanda Bennet, director, Voice of America
Arch Puddington, author of Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty
Dan Robinson, former chief White House correspondent, Voice of America
Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian Studies, Columbia University