The Union health ministry seems to be tired of answering difficult questions from dogged health reporters on the COVID-19 outbreak in India. On Wednesday, several journalists said that they were not allowed to ask questions as usual at the daily press briefing by the health ministry. The chance went only to journalists from state-run DD News and pro-government ANI.
This came a day after the Centre sought a Supreme Court directive that no media outlet publish any news related to the coronavirus outbreak without checking the facts with the government. Chief Justice SA Bobde later issued an order saying the court did not intend to interfere with free discussion, but directed the media to refer to and publish the “official version” of the developments on the coronavirus outbreak.
A journalist present at the media briefing, which lasted less than 15 minutes, told HuffPost India over the phone that “as soon as the briefing ended, DD News was called out and the person with DD asked the question. Then ANI”. Other reporters who raised their hands were not given a chance to ask questions, this person, who did not want to be named, added.
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“So one question from DD News, one from ANI, one from the media WhatsApp group and one from someone else. This was so hurried that I could not even register who the fourth person to ask the question was,” the reporter added.
Another journalist, who is also part of the PIB’s WhatsApp group, told HuffPost India that there was initially a message that only ANI and DD News reporters would be allowed to attend the briefing on Wednesday. After journalists...