The Wire is an Indian news website, founded in 2015 by Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, and M. K. Venu.[2][3]

The Wire
Wirelogo.png
Type of site
Journalism, news, analysis
Available inEnglish, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu
HeadquartersFirst Floor, 13, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Marg, Gole Market, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India
OwnerFoundation for Independent Journalism (FIJ)
EditorSiddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and M.K. Venu
Websitehttps://thewire.in/
Alexa rankIncrease 875[1] (India, December 2019)
CommercialNo
Launched11 May 2015

The portal has received international acclaim and their reporters have won several national and international awards. It has been also subject to several defamation suits by businessmen and politicians; some of them have been described as Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).

Background

Siddharth Varadarajan resigned from his position as editor at The Hindu citing the return of the editorship of the paper to being family run in 2013.[4] On 11 May 2015, The Wire was started by Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu who had initially funded the website. Later, it was made part of Foundation for Independent Journalism, a non-profit Indian company.[3][5] The Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) has provided The Wire with funding as well.[3][6]

Founding editor Varadarajan claims that the publication was created as a "platform for independent journalism",[7] and that its non-corporate structure and funding sources aim to free it from the "commercial and political pressures" that supposedly afflict mainstream Indian news outlets.[7][8][9] The Wire's founding is construed to be a result of, and reaction to, a political environment that has 'discouraged dissent' against the present Indian ruling BJP party.[8]

A story published in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) in late 2016 identified The Wire as one of several independent and recently founded internet-based media platforms - a group that also included Newslaundry, Scroll.in, The News Minute, TheQuint.com and ScoopWhoop - that were attempting to challenge the dominance of India's traditional print and television news companies and their online offshoots.[8]

The Wire's coverage principally focuses on the topics of "politics, foreign policy, political economy, science and development", according to an article published on Livemint.com.[7]

Reception

A December 2019 article by Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker, noted Wire as the only national media (other than The Caravan), to have engaged in providing aggressive coverage of the Modi-regime at a time when mainstream media were increasingly compelled to stifle all dissent and toe a pro-government line.[10]

Three journalists, working for The Wire, have won the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards till date.[11][12] Neha Dixit, reporting on extrajudicial killings and illegal detentions, won the CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2017, Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Mediapersons in 2016 and the Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize.[13][14][15][16]

Siddharth Vardarajan was awarded with the Shorenstein Prize in 2017. Jury member of the award Nayan Chanda mentioned that Vardarajan's independent web-based journalism-venture and distinguished body of well-researched reports was an epitome of journalistic excellence and innovation.[17]

Fact checkers have documented the site to have aided in the propagation of misinformation.[18] The Network of Women in Media, India criticised The Wire for providing a platform to Vinod Dua for making fun of an allegation of sexual harassment against him.[19]

Lawsuits

Reliance Infrastructure

In response to one of their video-shows covering the Rafale deal controversy, Reliance Infrastructure had lodged a defamation case in Ahmedabad civil court for a cost of INR 6000 crore.[20][21] It was part of a slew of defamation cases, filed against multiple media-organisations and were widely perceived to fall under the category of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP).[21][22]

Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Indian Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and venture capitalist Rajeev Chandrasekhar filed a defamation suit in a Bangalore civil court, after two articles -- 'Arnab's Republic, Modi's Ideology' by Sandeep Bushan and 'In Whose Interests Do Our Soldiers March?' by Sachin Rao -- were published, suggesting that Chandrasekhar's major investments in the Indian media and defence industries represented conflicts of interest with some of his roles as a legislator.[23][24]

On 2 March 2017 the court passed an ex-parte injunction, ordering The Wire to block access to the two articles.[23][24] The Wire complied but decided to challenge the court order.[23][24] On February 2019, the court lifted the injunction and ruled in favour of The Wire, leading to reinstatement of the articles.[25][26]

Jay Shah

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah's son Jay Shah filed a criminal defamation case against the editors of The Wire for printing an article titled 'The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah'.[27] A BJP-led coalition had formed the government at the centre following their win in the 2014 Indian general election, and Narendra Modi had become the Prime Minister. The article alluded to possible irregularities in Jay Shah's business dealings, claiming that the turnover of a company owned by him increased 16,000 times over in the year following the election.[28][29]

Jay Shah filed the case in court 13 of the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate against four editors/reporters of The Wire. Additional chief metropolitan magistrate SK Gadhvi ordered a court inquiry into the matter under CrPC section 202 to inquire into the case to decide whether or not there is sufficient ground for a case to be filed.[30] Observing that "prima facie it seems there is a case" against The Wire for its defamatory article against Shah, a metropolitan court issued summons to the reporter of the article and editors of the website to appear before it on 13 November in the criminal defamation case filed against them. The order also mentions Shah's contention that "the news portal didn't give enough time to him to send his response, the article didn't include the loss incurred by his company in the year 2015-2016, and created confusion over the turnover to defame him."[31]

The Ahmedabad civil court on 23 December vacated the ex parte and interim injunction. The court lifted all restrictions except the use of words (after) "Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister/elected as Prime Minister." The Wire called the lifting of the injunction a "victory for The Wire", and that the "decision by the civil court is a vindication of The Wire's fundamental stand that its article had been a legitimate exercise of the freedom of expression in the public interest."[32] However, the Gujarat High Court later reinstated the gag order and refused to quash the criminal defamation case filed by Jay Shah.[33] The Wire had appealed in the Supreme Court of India against this order. The Supreme Court of India asked the Gujarat trial court not to proceed till 12 April with the criminal defamation complaint.[34][35] Later, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra listed the matter to be heard on 18 April by a different bench of the Supreme Court. However, the bench had not been specified.[36]

Other

The organisation has been subject to other defamation suits—six by Adani Group[37] and one by Sri Sri Ravishankar.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ "thewire.in Site Info". Alexa Internet.
  2. ^ "About Us - The Wire". thewire.in. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Kohli-Khandekar, Vanita (2 November 2015). "Online portals seek a new face of journalism". Business Standard India. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  4. ^ Choudhary, Vidhi (8 May 2015). "Former editor of 'The Hindu' to launch news website". Livemint. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  5. ^ Staff, The Wire. "How The Wire is Funded - The Wire". thewire.in. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  6. ^ "IPSMF | The Independent and Public-Spirited (IPS) Media Foundation". ipsmf.org. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Choudhary, Vidhi (8 May 2015). "Former editor of 'The Hindu' to launch news website". livemint.com. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Can the digital revolution save Indian journalism?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Jay Shah files criminal defamation case against 'The Wire'". The Economic Times. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  10. ^ Filkins, Dexter (2 December 2019). "Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi's India". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  11. ^ "Rng Past Awards". rngfoundation.com. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Rng Past Awards". rngfoundation.com. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Neha Dixit Wins Committee to Protect Journalists' International Press Freedom Award". The Wire. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Neha Dixit Wins Chameli Devi Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist for 2016". The Wire. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Neha Dixit". International Center for Journalists. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Neha Dixit, India - Awards". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  17. ^ "The Wire's Siddharth Varadarajan wins Shorenstein Journalism Award". Outlook. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  18. ^ Sites covering this episode are:
  19. ^ Sites covering this episodes are:
  20. ^ "Anil Ambani's Reliance Sues The Wire for Rs 6,000 Crore Over Rafale Coverage". The Wire. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Another SLAPP? Anil Ambani now has The Wire in its crosshairs - B & B". Bar & Bench. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  22. ^ Lalwani, Vijayta. "Anil Ambani's defamation blitz: 28 cases filed by Reliance Group in Ahmedabad courts this year". Scroll.in. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  23. ^ a b c "Rajeev Chandrasekhar Says He's Fighting A Congress-Media Conspiracy". Huffington Post India. 8 March 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  24. ^ a b c Staff, Scroll. "In highly unusual move, Bengaluru court orders The Wire to remove articles on Rajeev Chandrasekhar". Scroll.in. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  25. ^ "Why Court Dismissed BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar's Plea Against The Wire". The Wire. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Order urging The Wire to pull articles on Rajeev Chandrasekhar vacated". Bar & Bench. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  27. ^ "The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah". The Wire. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  28. ^ PTI (9 October 2017). "Jay Shah files criminal defamation case against 'The Wire'". TheHinduBusinessLine.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  29. ^ Kumar, Raksha (2018). "Criminal Defamation : An effective legal gag on free speech" (PDF). India : Pursuing truth in the face of intolerance. London: PEN International. p. 11.
  30. ^ "Jay Shah files criminal defamation case against 'The Wire'". The Economic Times. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  31. ^ "Jay Shah defamation case: Citing prima facie case, court summons reporter, editors". 25 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017 – via The Indian Express.
  32. ^ "Court lifts stay on The Wire's story on Jay Shah". 23 December 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2018 – via newslaundry.com.
  33. ^ Staff, Scroll. "Jay Shah defamation case: Gujarat High Court restores gag order on The Wire". Scroll.in. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  34. ^ "Supreme Court stays defamation proceedings by Jay Shah against news portal". The Economic Times. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  35. ^ "Jay Shah Case: Supreme Court Asks Gujarat Court Not To Proceed With Defamation Case Against 'The Wire'". Outlook India. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  36. ^ "Chief Justice Misra Assigns Jay Shah Case Against The Wire to Different SC Bench - The Wire". The Wire. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  37. ^ "Freedom of Speech and Expression Cannot Be Compromised by Threats and SLAPPs". The Wire. Retrieved 16 November 2019.