Home Know The Law Substandard reporting by the mainstream media over death of Sushant Singh Rajput

Substandard reporting by the mainstream media over death of Sushant Singh Rajput

A majority of mainstream media Hindi News channels broke the various guidelines of ( PCI) while reporting over the actor’s death.

The death of Popular actor Sushant Singh Rajput famous for his role in MS Dhoni biopic causes huge dismay in the entire entertainment industry and across the country. Various celebrities from different fields show their grief on social media platforms.


However, this sudden demise of the actor did not stop the mainstream media from overtly sensationalizing the matter, despite several reporting guidelines on suicide provided by the Press Council of India (PCI).

As examples of highly irresponsible reporting, some of the reports described the method of suicide, while some others added images of Rajput lying dead in his bed, both of which flout the guidelines provided by PCI.

Rajput was found dead at the age of 34 in his apartment in Mumbai on June 14, 2020. The police ruled it as suicide. But, No suicide note was found by the police in the investigation from the actor’s house in Mumbai.

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Press Council’s Guidelines On Suicide Reporting

In 2019, the Press Council of India (PCI) issues a set of guidelines regarding reporting on suicides. According to the guidelines, the following are to be avoided:

  1. Publish stories about suicide prominently and unduly repeat such stories.
  2. Use language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a constructive solution to problems.
  3. Explicitly describe the method used.
  4. Provide details about the site/location.
  5. Use sensational headlines.
  6. Use photographs, video footage, or social media links.

While reporting Rajput’s death the media has violated various guidelines of suicide reporting.

Media wickedness

Various prominent Hindi News channels such as AajTak, ABP News, Zee News, etc use some cricketing terminologies as the late actor played the role of MS Dhoni in the biopic MS Dhoni – The Untold Story. This led some news channels to use cricketing terminology to create highly sensational headlines.

Zee News put out a tweet with the caption, “फिल्मी का धोनीअसल ज़िंदगी में आउटकैसे?” (How did the Dhoni of cinemas get “out” in real life. Aaj Tak also put out a similar caption in the ticker, stating, “How did Sushant get a “hit wicket”?” Zee News also put out another sensational headline: “How did Sushant from Patna fail in Mumbai?” ABP News was also found sensationalizing the matter by using a reference Kai Po Che (a kiting term used in Gujarat which means “I have cut it”, referring to the act of cutting the strings of another kite), another film which stars Rajput.

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The above examples of reporting are strictly in conflict with the guidelines presented by PCI, especially with regards to point 2 and 5 (Use language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide; using sensational headlines).

Pictures of Rajput lying dead in his bed has also been circulated on social media, which ended up being used by News Nation in their coverage of Rajput’s death. Using such photos while reporting on suicide is an infringement of point 6 of the guideline. However, the Maharashtra Cyber, Maharashtra Government’s Nodal office for Cyber Crime investigation, has taken the suo moto cognizance on this issue and put out a thread on Twitter, warning people against sharing the images of the deceased actor.


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