The latest sting operation by India’s Tehelka magazine that captured “mass murderers on national television saying how they killed, who they killed and who helped them kill” has resulted in a deafening silence all around.
For starters, there has not been an inkling of action from the executive or the judiciary. Then the political parties seem mystifyingly reluctant to take up the issue. And the rest of the media seem only too eager to give it a hurried burial.
Tarun J. Tejpal has been there and seen it all before. In an interview with CNBC’s features editor Anuradha SenGupta, the editor-in-chief of India’s #1 investigative magazine, says “it’s a conspiracy of silence between all the interested groups and the media is now a part of it.”
# “Sting journalism has brought back the juice into journalism, into public-interest issues. In a democracy as embattled and complicated as India, hard journalism has to remain at the top of the journalistic order. All the difficult and uncomfortable questions have to be front-cased by journalism. That is what sting operations have managed to do.
# “I cannot understand that controversy that is created in a country where billions are spent propagating so much fluff. Thick newspapers have actresses and models, that is fine, but the moment someone does something that is actually in the public wheel, people start making noises about it.
# Who is uncomfortable with it? Two kinds of people are uncomfortable with it: The ones who have power money, because they run the risk of being exposed. The only ones who would love to have stings banned are the politicians because they are the ones who are exposed.
The other is the media who do not have the stomach to do it. The media that is creaming commercial space by doing pure commercial journalism. You can keep run page after page of non-combative, non-exposing kind of journalism and you’ll be very happy because advertisements will flow in, readership revenue will flow in, no one will rock the boat, it’s a beautiful status quo. It’s a conspiracy of silence between all the interested groups and the media is now a part of it.
# What’s the kind of journalism that you would like to do? An interview with Sharad Pawar or Kareena Kapoor? The problem with the upper middle class of the country is that it’s so self-serving all the time that it cannot imagine anyone who works for something other than serving the self.
Read the full interview: Being Tarun Tejpal
Also read: Man behind most important story of our time