Dec 012010

Over 10 days after the story broke in the Open Magazine & Outlook, the rest of the media seems to have gotten into the act of covering the #Radiatapes – especially the ethics of journalists on the tapes.

NDTV went first yesterday – with a strange, strange show hosted by Sonia Singh (please correct me if the name is wrong, have begun watching 24*7 news for the first time in 2 years). The show featured Barkha Dutt and a panel including – Manu Joseph, Sanjay Baru, Swapan Das Gupta and Dileep Padgaonkar … Sonia didn’t add to the show except to assert her designation – and Barkha lost her cool with Manu Joseph who seems to have all the tenacity of a blood hound that had found a rather juicy steak !

You can watch the unedited episode here.

here, here and here

Frankly, the show was disappointing. Ms.Dutt vacillated between being emotional – hardly surprising given the barrage of criticism that has been leveled at her and her professional & personal integrity – and outraged. She admitted she was gullible – not the best quality for a political editor – but said that she didn’t do anything wrong. Her interaction with Manu Joseph was particularly appalling – especially when she got into his ethics of publishing the story. In doing so she forgot that Manu Joseph may have breached professional etiquette, but i am not quite sure that it was a breach of professional ethics.

Part of the problem with the NDTV programme was that it was designed like an inquisition rather than a journalistic endeavor. When someone accuses you, you will – but naturally – defend yourself. While it makes for a great soap opera, it doesn’t make for a particularly credible news show.

The show reminded me of all the reasons that i stopped watching 24*7 news channels in the aftermath of 26*11 – too many shouting heads, too many people screaming in tandem – all in all a clusterf***.


Headlines Today had a show tonight which had Vir Sanghvi being interviewed by Rahul Kanwal, and then Kanwal went on to discuss the issue of the journalists & Radia with N Ram, Dilip Cherian (of Perfect Relations), Hartosh Bal Political Editor of the Open and two other editors from the Living Media (India Today) Group – MJ Akbar and Prabhu Chawla. (Prabhu Chawla is on the tapes as well – but it seemed more to be conversation about the Ambani dispute, rather than anything else)

The discussion was far more controlled, Vir Sanghvi appearing far more credible than i thought possible under the circumstances….

here, here, here and here.


Surprisingly, Wall Street Journal , has a fairly detailed and multiple views on this affair – especially vis-a-vis Ms.Dutt. They had 6 opinion pieces today – that seemed to be over kill.

Incidentally, WSJ is owned by News Corp., who also owns Fox News (amongst other media vehicles). So, it was quite amusing to see them behave outraged about journalistic ethics


And then there was this rambling piece by Tunku Varadarajan – in the daily beast that concludes with:

A final word: India’s media is still an insulated and protected sector. To this day, foreign media companies cannot own more than 26 percent of an Indian imprint. This has made for an insular press, a corrupt press, an Indian media untested not merely against global standards of journalistic craft, but also against Western standards of journalistic ethics. Dutt, surely, has a heckuva lot of explaining to do. But she’s not the only one in that position—by any stretch.

we are of course talking about the same set of ‘western journalistic ethics’ that believed that there were WMD’s in Iraq and convinced its readers/viewers of the same … please !!

By all means let there be more transparency and better monitoring of all professions, but to draw causality where there is none is kind of stupid….

If you want to read a Varadarajan on this issue you might be better off reading Siddarth Varadarajan in the Hindu


And finally, while the trickle of coverage becomes a deluge – it would be good to remember that the journalists in this entire affair  are basically gullible dupes – and the bigger story is that of who benefits from this entire episode and leaks …


Worth Reading

Fixing Barkha Dutt – B Raman

Hello, this is Niira, by Archana Shukla  in the Indian Express

NDTV Exposes NDTV, by Farzana Versey in Counter Media

The rotting of New India – Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian

The Storm in the Studio – Shailja Bajpai in the Indian Express

Vir Sanghvi Gets Points for Being Apologetic – WSJ

Dangerous liaisons – Samar Halarnkar, HT

Wait a Minute, What Exactly Is Barkha Dutt Accused of?, Amol Sharma, WSJ

Lessons from the Radia Tapes Row -Bupendra Chaubey, CNN IBN

The Republic on a Banana Peel – P Sainath, in the Hindu

India Journal: What Difference Will the Radia Tapes Make? – Rupa Subramanya Dehejia – in the WSJ

Was it okay to leak the Radia tapes? – Financial Express –

  14 Responses to “Radia Tapes – Coverage Begins”

  1. The Headlines Today debate on #BarkhaVirGate is far more balanced, far more focused, far more incisive and far more substantive than that on NDTV.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Offstumped, calamur, Harsha Kushtagi, Ankan, Shakti Singh Duawat and others. Shakti Singh Duawat said: RT @offstumped: RT “@calamur: Radia Tapes – Coverage Begins” […]

  3. And finally a tribute video posted to @bdutt … clearly not her best side 🙂

  4. Barkha Dutt was as loud mouthed as ever. The chair person did a very poor job, allowing Barkha to keep on speaking and trying to intimidate (unsuccesfully) Manu Joseph.
    I for one do not buy her explanation. For years she has been acting as a power broker, revelling in her proximity to politicians and rich industrialists. Look at her lousy show We the People where she does most of the talking and passes off straw poll as people’s voice.
    She states in the NDTV show that she believes she is a good journalist. Tell her to watch CBS 60 minutes or Tim Sebastian on Hard Talk to know what good journalism is. No doubt she will not, after all she knows it all…

  5. […] Headlines Today had a show tonight which had Vir Sanghvi being interviewed by Rahul Kanwal, and then Kanwal went on to discuss the issue of the journalists & Radia with N Ram, Dilip Cherian (of Perfect Relations), Hartosh Bal Political … Full Blog at – POV » […]

  6. Ur right headlines today was far more balanced (among the few programs of the two)
    As far as today’s journalism is concern i still rely on kuldip nayar, A.G Noorani,Subramanium,Khusvant Singh…a bit M J Akbar rest i feel either have lack of knowledge or biased somewhere or greedy …Vinod mehta still work as a playboy(say bika hua) . Vir Sanghvi though here was impressive limits himself to champagne columns as though he can’t offer more .
    During the CWG delhi the pics covered by nytimes were far more impressive than toi n others ,this section always a weak point of the hindu .
    By the way liked your posts here because of rich content .

  7. It was NDTV that ran a poll on whether MF Hussain be given Bharat Ratna!!! It was then that I stopped watching this lousy channel! I am proved right!

    The Government of today, or the next Government should forfeit the Padma Shri Awards given to all active journalists – Barkha Dutt, Desai, and others! They are all hypocrites! Don’t have the guts to admit their misdeed if not crimes!

    All these newspapers were silent except the two news magazines, but now with Wikileaks they are bombarding the readers with several pages on Wikileak contents. The biggest hypocrite in this Radiagate episode I feel is The Indian Express – Shekhar Gupta goes running to Ratan Tata taking a sit the walk….talking about leaks – but being completely silent on Radiagate contents – You can’t expect much from degenerated newspaper like IE, when for Ramnath Goenka award, Sharad Pawar is invited as a prime guest (if not chief guest).

    If people think that all politicians have become looters, take heart – all journalists have become greedy, award-hungry and totally biased….

  8. […] her botched debate with a panel of editors [Harini has the video], it was interesting to watch Barkha Dutt deploy lying ("fibbing" and "stringing Radia along" are […]

  9. For those who don’t have the patience to listen to the tapes but a tendency to jump on the bandwagon, I have loaded the full transcript on my blog along with the audio link of my conversation so that my readers and viewers can make up their own mind.
    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Much has been made about a conversation that Nira Radia had with me. This is just to put the record straight. The 13 minute conversation had nothing to do with the controversial 2G of A Raja. Nira called me as she said “to seek my expertise” on the Battle for Gas” between the two Ambani brothers. I merely told her that the earlier the brothers put an end to their private battle, the better it will be for the public good. I did not take sides. I did say that I knew both brothers but was equally critical of the tactics being adopted by each to run down the other. Nira also asked me about my son, who is a lawyer and is retained by the Anil Ambani group as their counsel. I however made it clear that my son Ankur was not appearing in the particular Gas case. Following is the transcript of the 13 minute conversation. It is proof, if indeed proof were needed, that I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of.
    NR. Hi Prabhu
    PC Ya tell me now
    NR Nai nothing, I was just wanting to understand things from you. You always have a very good perspective.
    PC On What?
    NR On everything Bhai he he he he. Generally you have a good perspective of everything. I just wanted to know what is yr view on this great historic judgment.

  10. […] Tapes – Coverage Begins Radia Tapes – Coverage Begins Published on December, 01 […]

  11. […] controversy and Dutt's defence Barka Dutt's debate with a panel of editors on NDTV.  See the video — she tried very hard to defend herself, but […]

  12. […] Classified documents leaking into public domain is being witnessed in India too. The Nira Radia tapes found their way into blogs and media websites and shocked the scale and spread of the malaise in our political and social […]

Leave a Reply