Who can Bell the Cat Called Media...

Dec 17, 2010

Every student of journalism is aware of the popular phrase ‘when a dog bites a man,  that is no news.  But when a man bites a dog, that is what becomes news”.  In a typical case of “man biting ……..”  some of the famed and highly acclaimed  journalists held on a high pedestal in Indian  media  circles,  are making news,  but for all wrong reasons.  The Niira Radia tapes have opened a can of worms much to the mortification  of celebrated journalists Barka Dutt and Vir Sanghvi, whose names have surfaced in Radia tapes for their attempts to exploit their proximity to politicians.  The public outcry against such professional misconduct, misjudgment or whatever  name one can call it, has been at its vehement best  and one can say Indian media is facing the biggest credibility crisis. 

Though there is no evidence of financial impropriety against these journalists as of now,  their credibility built on years of hard work lay shattered into pieces within no time. Nira Radia tapes has exposed that journalists who otherwise cry hoarse about corruption by politicians and bureaucrats,  have feet of clay when it comes to power brokerage by exerting their influence in the powers of corridors or reaping financial benefits for themselves.  The Radia tapes have uncovered Barka’s  role in influencing cabinet formation and Sanghvi trying to influencing public opinion on the dispute between Ambani brothers. It is not clear whether Barka  and Sanghvi acted on the ‘instructions’ of Radia  for money,  is not clear yet. But,  they have surely transgressed the borderline of ethical journalism by misusing their  proximity to people who matter,  both in politics and in the corporate world.  They have been a  party to the  ugly  business of vying for power witnessed during the formation of the government at the centre in 2009. The credibility of the media and that of the journalists is at its lowest ebb  in spite of the fact that  it is the two weekly magazines which have been responsible for bringing into the open the ‘Radiagate” scandal.  

The general public, who till now believed every word  uttered by these journalists are in a quandary not knowing whom to trust.  While the politicians have always betrayed the aspirations of the public, the industrialists, who, the people thought would take us in the right path of development, have only flattered to deceive(Ratan Tata one example). Of course, media’s role in providing and projecting unbiased news and views was always suspected and taken with a pinch of salt  in our country, especially in the recent decades where morality and values have been on the downslide.  The paid news controversy has blemished that image to a certain extent  and the recent  revelations have come as a shocker to the gullible people, who  always held journalists on a higher scale,  further denting the credibility of the media.  

But  now they feel cheated and  let down by the  very people whom they considered as their  role models and saviors. With their  image  tarnished and credibility dwindled,  with what face can these journalist point fingers at other wrong doers? Aren’t they doing a great disservice to their  profession, making all journalists look like clowns?   The judiciary is  no better either as it is already mired in its own scandals and rottenness, as remarked by the Supreme Court following the disclosure of the  association  between the judges of Allahabad High Court and their  advocate relatives.   With all the major pillars of democracy crumbling or failing to deliver, one wonders what is going to be the future of this great country, whom, many tout to be the future economic superpower?.  Where are we going to burry all the stench that emanates from the shameful acts of  the high, the mighty and the powerful?   

Now people talk only about Burkagate and Radiagate along with 2 G Spectrum,  the biggest scandal to surface in the history of this country.  How the corporate houses and a certain political  family were exerting their influence to ensure cabinet births to people who they thought would act according to their ‘instructions’ as a quid-pro-quo, has now come out in the open.  The second installment of tapes released by the weekly magazine “Outlook”  once again gives a peek into unholy  politicians-corporate lobbyist- journalist  alliance in addition to throwing light on the bizarre working of the government, the deals, the side deals, the sidekicks, speculation, gossip, corruption in different avatars and how the common public taken for a ride by the very people whom they entrust the security and well being of the nation.  One also wonders how a corporate lobbyist could wield  such  enormous powers with the who is who at corridors of power.  Doubts are also raised on  how Niira Radia could raise a business empire of over Rs. 300 crores within a short span of 10 years or the security risk she might have posed due to her proximity to corporate houses, politicians and journalists.
While the wider implications of the politician-journalist-lobbyist’s nexus becomes murkier, in Karnataka too there has been a storm of sort in Kannada journalism  following the resignation (forced) of the editor of one of the powerful newspapers, who is also said to be the richest editor in Kannada journalism and also that of its executive editor who is ‘famous’ for his weekly column,  in certain circles.  Their resignations and all the speculations surrounding their exit, along with the  stories of their (mis)adventures have  surfaced  in newspapers  and weeklies,  sending Kannada journalism into utter frenzy. It is said that this richest journalists had 3 bungalows, 3 cars (including a Mercedes) and other property worth crores.   It is also come to light that  the  columnist executive editor  of the  daily newspaper  has even grabbed a Rs  50 lakh site by projecting his physically challenged  future wife as  his sister, courtesy the present government.  Imagine, what moral right did this journalist have to criticize another journalist  Barka Dutt, when his own hands were muddy!  

“Tehelka” magazine has published an exclusive article on Karnataka giving a list of journalists who have been benefitted by the largesse of successive Chief Ministers in the state, thus further tarnishing whatever  remains of the reputation of the journalists.  One cannot forget the episode of Sidharaju of PTI who even stooped to the level of saying he had ‘“divorced’ his wife  and had given the site to her, when journalist Nagalaxmi took them to court for giving a false affidavit saying they did not have a site in their name.  These journalists eulogize about the virtues of journalism and talk about corruption in high places in their newspapers or magazines.  But when it comes  to self, they indulge in all sorts of tricks for filling their own coffers. It is now said that more skeletons  come out of the cupboards of journalism,  in the near future.

For long the misdemeanor of the journalists and the misuse of their proximity to the rich and the powerful  was known, there was no one to bell the cat. It is a matter of some solace that there are still journalists who are known for their simple life  and dedication to the profession.  Such journalists have become a rare breed, which is unfortunate. 

In this age when sting operations have become commonplace and publications/channels  defend them because people have a right to know, it is also true that public have a right to know whether journalists were involved in unethical journalistic practices namely in fixing deals, power brokerage, misusing their proximity to those in power  and bending or exploiting certain provisions for their own advantage.  When journalists point fingers at others,  it also demands that they have a clean conscience by not indulging in any unscrupulous actions and measure up to the standards it expects from  those in public life.   

The media,  like Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion, if at all it needs to regain its lost credibility and win back the trust of the people.  Considering the damage done to this watchdog of democracy following the spate of scandals involving jounralists, it calls for herculean task to wipe out clean the filth  clinging to their body.  Nonetheless it is not impossible. 

by Florine Roche
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to news@daijiworld.com mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • Jimmy Noronha, BELLORE/LUCKNOW

    Sat, Dec 18 2010

    Barka Dutt and Vir Sanghvi have commanded quite a commendable appreciation for their journalistic acumen. However, after their exposure, I wonder how they will have the face to live down their ethically incorrect behaviour as they have had quite a large following after they have been masquerading as the guardians of the society and have been in the limelight for quite some time now. However, it is really a shame that they have now proved themselves in no way worse than the very people they have been pointing fingers at. They should on no account given rise to any suspicion upon their integrity. Was Barka really in those frontline bunkers during the Kargil war or was it some sort of a hogwash aimed at gaining TRP??

  • R Mallar, Kasaragod/ Dubai

    Sat, Dec 18 2010

    If one watched Barkha Dutt on NDTV, invariably she acts as if she is one of the panelists rather than the moderator. She tries to force her ideas on people who go against it. Compare this with Pranoy Roy who limits himself as moderator only. It is this overenthusiasm that lead to Barkha's fall.
    Another interesting thing is that beating of a youth for falling in love with a girl in Mangalore was flashed continuously 24x7 in NDTV, but not a word about killing of a couple in a village in Haryana for eloping.
    As far as Vir Sanghvi is concerned I am reading his articles for last 23 years and found his views quite balanced. But Subramanyam Swamy's allegation that Vir enjoys a trip to Phuket in Bangkok quite often and the bill is footed by LTTE can't be taken lightly.

  • Felix F.,, India/Ksa

    Fri, Dec 17 2010

    There is NO NEED to bell the cats, be it the Media-Politics or the industrialist, as there is something called Nature against whom every Baraka - Sanghvi- and Tata, become powerless, when the time comes to award justice, which otherwise no human can do.

    If at all Barka Dutt - Vir Sanghvi-Rattan Tata and the likes are exposed it is not the work of human but of Nature. Nature will protect India and God fearing Indians, from these kinds of people even in the futute, and so there is nothing to get alarmed about it.

Leave a Comment

Title: Who can Bell the Cat Called Media...

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. Daijiworld.com will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will Daijiworld.com be held responsible.