The election commission of India likes to pretend that it came to know of the phenomenon of “paid news”—advertisements being slipped in under the garb of news to circumvent expenditure norms— only after recent reports of its widespread use during the 2009 recent general elections.
Well, here’s more news for the EC.
A journalist with Citizen Matters, a civic awareness magazine published from Bangalore, writes that she was offered money to write about candidates from three mainstream political parties contesting elections to the civic body in India’s IT capital.
Vaishnavi Vittal writes that an aide of a first-time candidate in ward no. 177 (J.P. Nagar) tried to slip her a bunch of 100-rupee notes neatly folded in his palm. “Nimma expenditurege (for your expenditure), madam”, he said sheepishly. Less than an hour later, in the same ward, another candidate pulled out wads of 500-rupee notes from his pocket and asked me, “Hana yenadaru kodabeka? (Should we pay you any money?)”
“A similar incident occurred with a party candidate contesting from Sarakki (Ward 178). After the interview, the candidate’s spouse and campaign coordinator repeatedly asked me if they need to pay me for the interview. They went on to add, laughing all the while, that they are ready to pay money even if we don’t ask for it.
“The two of them gave me a copy of a local Kannada publication in which there were several reports, profiling some of the candidates. They told me that they had paid for a report on their party candidate on the front page.”
Read the full article: Cash for coverage comes to BBMP elections too
Link via Kanchar Kaur-Hariharan
Complete coverage: Editors’ Guild on paid news, private treaties