On 8 June 2015 a journalist named Jagendra Singh died in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, after his body was allegedly set afire on 1 June by police personnel. On 10 January 2016, correspondent Malini Subramaniam was paid a "late night" visit at her home in Bastar, Chattisgarh, by the police there, allegedly to intimidate her because of her reporting on abuses by the security forces in the area. Scroll.in reported on 19 February 2016 that she left Bastar the previous day in order to avoid further harassment. At the same time, there was another ongoing news story of journalists being assaulted on 15 February 2016 by some lawyers, in sight of police at Patiala Court House in New Delhi. The journalists were there to cover a story about protests by and arrests of Jawaharlal Nehru University students.
All these stories were reported to varying degrees by many news outlets. However, on 16 February members of the Delhi press corps publicly marched in protest of the court-house incident. Many prominent journalists, such as Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai, tweeted about the march. While Singh's death and Subramaniam's exodus also received quite a bit of media coverage, and continue to do so, the protest march drew the ire of many non-journalists. "Where were you when Jagendra Singh was killed?" several Twitter users asked.
I decided to find out. I picked just one platform, Twitter, and searched through all the tweets that mentioned "jagendra singh" in 2015. I then isolated the tweets by that appeared to be by journalists, judging by their Twitter screen name or their description. Since this incident brought Singh back into the mentions, I also searched for mentions of his name this year. I also searched for mentions of "malini subramaniam" this year, to see who was tweeting about her.
As the table below shows, many journalists did tweet about Jagendra Singh. If a particular journalist did not tweet about Singh, it does not mean they did not cover his death elsewhere, it just wasn't on Twitter. This is also not a complete list. It only shows those who published at least 2 tweets about Singh or Subramaniam. There were many journalists who only tweeted once, they have been left out of the table. Finally, searching on Twitter may not return the complete result set. It is possible that some tweets may have been deleted. It also depends on whether Twitter itself returns all the tweets or is filtering the results in some way.
Interestingly, there is nearly no overlap between those who tweeted about Singh and those who tweeted about Subramaniam. This could be because of the platforms on which Sing and Subramaniam were published. Even though both victims wrote about abuse and corruption in their local settings far from Delhi, Singh wrote in Hindi, published his work on Facebook and local newspapers. Subramaniam worked in development and worked on a project for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Her writings in English were published by Scroll.in. Therefore it stands to reason that journalists may not have been equally exposed to both of them.
Moreover, when members of the public ask "Where were you when..." of the news media in general, or complain that Singh did not get enough coverage, it may reflect their own lack of exposure as well. Perhaps those who follow Dutt, Sardesai and English language publications such as scroll.in may not follow many Hindi publications or journalists, and therefore did not see mentions of his death. Just for comparison, there were 266 tweets about Singh last year and 83 tweets about Subramaniam so far this year.
|Screen Name||Tweets on Jagendra Sing in 2015||Tweets on Jagendra Singh in 2016||Tweets on Malini Subramaniam||Total|
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