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.
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….
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 …
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
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 -