The Wire (thewire.in) is a news website published by the Foundation for Independent Journalism (FIJ), a non-profit Indian company. It was founded in 2015 by editors Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, and MK Venu, who also initially funded the site. The Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) has provided The Wire with funding as well, and at least some of the website's articles have been written pro-bono. It is one of the latest publication houses to venture into the untapped Urdu market.
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. Founding editor Varadarajan claims that the publication was created as a “platform for independent journalism”, 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.
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 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.
Controversies and criticism
In 2015, Siddharth Varadarajan started thewire, after his removal from his position as editor at The Hindu: thus The Wire's founding is construed as a result of, and reaction to, a political environment that has discouraged dissent against the present Indian ruling BJP party.
Indian Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and venture capitalist Rajeev Chandrasekhar accused The Wire of conspiring against him with the country’s main opposition, the Congress Party, after the website published two articles suggesting that Chandrasekhar's major investments in the Indian media and defense industries might represent conflicts of interest with his role as a legislator.Chandrasekhar subsequently filed suit in a Banglore civil court, alleging that The Wire's coverage of him was defamatory. On March 2, 2017 the court passed an ex-parte injunction, ordering The Wire to block access to the two allegedly defamatory articles: 'Arnab's Republic, Modi's Ideology' by Sandeep Bushan and 'In Whose Interests Do Our Soldiers March?' by Sachin Rao.
Though The Wire removed both articles from its site, it has decided to challenge the court order.
BJP chief Amit Shah’s son filed a criminal defamation case against the editors of news website The Wire, which had printed the article 'The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah' which highlighted Jay Shah’s business dealings, claiming that the turnover of a company owned by Shah’s son increased 16,000 times over in the year following election of PM Narendra Modi. Some media sources, however, held that there were many glaring errors and innuendoes in the article, which were reported within hours of the article being published.
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.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 November 13 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.”
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.”