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RIP Pranita: NLU Jodhpur students, Randians win unlikely viral media victory, most news websites correct wrong daredevil selfie death story

RIP Pranita Mehta
RIP Pranita Mehta

An unexpected positive result amidst tragedy for NLU Jodhpur students and alums yesterday, who mounted a campaign against media both national and international, which had wrongly re-reported and sensationalised a student Pranita Mehta’s accidental drowning as a daredevil selfie gone wrong.

As we reported yesterday, former and current NLU Jodhpur students had begun a email campaign to set the record straight, with their missive eventually beginning to go viral on the Indian section of the forum-like website Reddit, where an NLU Jodhpur student user of the site posted the letter anonymously under a so-called throwaway account.

While at around 5pm yesterday the post had just under 600 upvotes, it is now at 4,153 upvotes and 233 comments, putting it on track to become the last 12 months’ all-time most popular post on the Indian sub-community on the site,  r/India, whose users sometimes amusingly refer to themselves as ‘Randians’, punning on the name of the sub-reddit and Ayn Rand super-fans. [Editor’s note: We have been learned by the Randian hivemind’s chief Twitter account that the word Randian has nothing whatsoever to do with Ayn Rand.]

Late yesterday the post was updated with the news that most news websites had corrected or removed their articles – a remarkable feat in a media landscape where takedowns by large media houses are rare.

Cash-rich Buzzfeed-imitator ScoopWhoop even issued an apology (see picture above), while the Times of India published a new, more sobre story of the incident, with a line:

Timesofindia.com didn't publish an article on the incident but it carried an inaccurate video provided by a news agency that is usually reliable.

And even The Mirror, based in the UK where tabloids are famously combative, updated its story and added a paragraph: “It was previously reported that Pranita fell 300ft from a lighthouse while taking a selfie. This has since proved to be incorrect as heartbroken friends revealed the brave woman had battled in the waters for close to an hour before help arrived - too late to save her.”

The update to the Reddit post below

We did it reddit!

(UK and Irish mirror had published the incorrect version of events but promptly changed the article once the true version was pointed out by students through email)

ScoopWhoop has retracted its previous story and apologised to her family and many other websites are doing the same. I will keep updating this post adding to the list of websites.

Although words cannot express how greatful I am to Reddit India, words are all I have. So please accept my sincerest appreciation for what you guys have done today, you have, even though you are hundreds of miles from her parents , reduced their suffering in a small way. I and her friends will be eternally greatful to reddit India for rallying behind this cause, when we band together we can achieve anything, and even though we sit behind screens we have the power to affect people in real life. Thankyou all for believing this story.

Thankyou guys so much once again, and thanks to the mods for being so cooperative. Thankyou ScoopWhoop for owning up to the mistake and not ignoring the truth when it came out. This post is now being circulated all over facebook and my college thanks to the efforts of reddit India.

To Pranita, I hope you are in a better place, the college will forever miss seeing your radiating smile everyday.

To those reading, the best thing to do in honour of Pranitas memory is to ensure such places carry warning signs alerting visitors of dangers, as suggested by a redditor here

EDIT: As of 12PM IST (3rd June) all the major newshouses have now either taken down the incorrect version, or posted the correct version. I will most likely stop updating this post, unless something major happens.

Thanks to everyone on reddit, you guys have done something of immense value today. I wish you guys all the best in life.

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