Posts Tagged ‘Radiagate’

Times Now. Times Now. Times Now. Times Now.

2 February 2011

The reason more people eat hen’s eggs, rather than duck’s eggs which are arguably tastier, is that the poor, overworked hen not only lays the egg but also goes around proclaiming that it has laid one.

Arnab Goswami has clearly read the old advertising principle.

After the disgraced former telecom minister A. Raja was arrested in the 2G spectrum allocation scam on Wednesday, Times Now went on an overdrive to claim credit before other channels could put their pants on.

Under the rubric “Times Impact”, the channel proclaimed:

# Raja first nailed by Times Now

# Times Now first exposed Raja’s role on November 3

# Raja sacked 12 days after Times Now exposed 2G scam

# CBI arrested Raja 3 months after Times Now expose

# CBI briefing (announcing Raja’s arrest) at 5 pm, Times Now broke story at 3 pm

# First pictures of (Raja’s brother) Perumal arrest on Times Now

# Times Now first channel to ask ten 10 questions 10 minutes after arrest.

OK, OK all those “supers” except the last one.

Also read: Journalist’s house raided in 2G scam

Nakkheeran journo denies wife worked for Radia

Have Tatas blacklisted The Times of India again?

The Pioneer journalist who brought A. Raja to book

Everybody loves to claim credit for an expose

Vir Sanghvi & Barkha Dutt: “We were targeted”

27 January 2011

Society, the monthly lifestyle magazine of the Magna group owned by Nari Hira, has a cover story on Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt in its January 2011 issue.

For the first time, the two journalists most affected by the Niira Radia tapes, appear on the same platform.

In his 3-page interview, Sanghvi states:

“I am told by one of the publications that received the tapes that they came neatly marked and sub-divided. Barkha Dutt’s conversations were first and mine were second. So, we were not collateral damage. The intention of the leaker was to target us.”

In her one-page interview, Dutt states:

“I can’t comment on why the leakage has been so selective. But clearly, the conversations have been cherry picked and, in the interests of transparency, I think all 5,000-plus conversations should now be made public.”

Both journalists speak on the life-lessons from Radiagate. And, like in their TV appearances following the controversy, Sanghvi appears the more remorseful of the two.

Sanghvi says:

“I think the important thing for all of us to realise is that no matter whether we are well-known or successful, the truth is that we are nothing without the faith of our readers and our viewers. At the end of the day, if we cannot explain our own actions, then we cannot expect them to take us seriously when we comment on the actions of others…. All of us in the media are what our readers and viewers have made us. Without them, we are nothing.”

Dutt says:

“My viewers don’t need to be disheartened. The way the story has been presented is so caricatured and distorted that it is made to look in a certain way. I am still the same journalist that I always was. I strongly object to the way these stories have been written.”

Also read: Barkha Dutt tarred by pure malice: Khushwant Singh

When Rajdeep Sardesai got it left, right and centre

Is it really so difficult to say, sorry, maaf karo?

Should Prabhu Chawla edit New Indian Express?

14 December 2010

Editors, anchors, columnists, correspondents… tens of media personnel have been badly mauled in the eyes of news consumers, in the Niira Radia scandal.

But do the proprietors and managers really care?

Vir Sanghvi has suspended his weekly column in the Hindustan Times while merrily writing on food. The buck still stops at Barkha Dutt‘s table at 10 pm on NDTV while she fights a lonely battle from the trenches of Twitter.

Now, Manoj Kumar Sonthalia, grandson of the mighty Ramnath Goenka who is in charge of the southern editions of the paper, has reportedly decided to hire former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla, as the new editor of  The New Indian Express (TNIE), despite the thick smog of scandal hanging over the latter’s underprotected head.

Chawla, who got a most perplexing certificate of merit from The Hindu‘s editor-in-chief N. Ram, on the India Today-owned TV station Headlines Today, however, has had a slightly inauspicious entry. The outgoing TNIE team of Aditya Sinha has carried this brief excerpt involving Chawla from the second tranche of the Radia tapes.

Listen: Prabhu Chawla in conversation with Niira Radia

Also read: Prabhu Chawla‘s son named in media bribery case

“Accused” Ankur Chawla is now “investigator” Chawla

In the New Indian Express, old hands get the sack

SMS IPUB4 to 51818* for Journalist of the Year

4 December 2010

The Pioneer's special correspondent, J. Gopikrishnan (second from left, with mike in hand), who brought the 2G scam-tainted telecom minister A. Raja to book, at a colloquium at the Asian College of Journalism in Madras on Wednesday, 1 December 2010 (photo courtesy: The Hindu)

 

The publication of the Niira Radia tapes by Outlook* and Open magazines has seen the usual clutch of usual suspects—and “suspects” many of them truly are—hog the limelight and shine in reflected glory.

All, except J. Gopikrishnan of The Pioneer, the journalist who (aside from Paranjoy Guha Thakurta) kept pegging away at the 2G spectrum allocation scam, story after story, eventually bringing about the resignation of the telecom minister, A. Raja.

Thankfully, a small correction is on the way.

On Wednesday, Gopikrishnan took part in a colloquium on the Radia tapes organised by the Asian college of journalism (ACJ) in Madras, where he lamented that he had been on the 2G case for nearly two years with very little response, before the tapes burst on the scene and grabbed the attention of the entire nation.

Gopikrishnan has also been nominated for the CNN-IBN “Indian of the Year” in the “public service” category. To vote for him, sms IPUB4 to 51818. Conditions apply!

* Conditions apply

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Image: courtesy IBNLive.com

Also read: The Pioneer journo who brought A. Raja to book

Everybody loves (to claim credit for) an expose

When Rajdeep Sardesai got it left, right & centre

3 December 2010

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There were two “key takeaways”—as TV anchors remind us every night, two “key takeaways”—from the post-Niira Radia chintan baithak organised by  the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, and the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) in New Delhi on Friday.

The first takeaway is what the mainstream media (MSM) will report happily. Which is that senior editors in India (as the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder who attended the meeting reports) are “considering putting in place systems to ensure ethical practices in journalism”.

Meaning: aal iz well.

In other words, the grey hairs bowing before their Old Monk™ have fully grasped the import of the scandal that has enveloped the profession, following the publication of tapes and transcripts of conversations Radia had with Barkha Dut, Vir Sanghvi, Prabhu Chawla et al, and are poised to act.

The other takeaway is what only the tabloids would waste ink on (feel free to stop right here if your choice is broadsheet or berliner).

Which is that the president of the Editors’ Guild of India, Rajdeep Sardesai—whose favourite offline excuse for  ethical concerns in the profession is “Hamaam mein sab nange hain (everybody is naked in the public bathroom)”—actually had to stand unprotected under a very heavy downpour on a winter afternoon in Delhi today, for an hour if not more.

A downpour of criticism, that is.

The joint EGI-PCI-IWPC meeting started off well, as most introspection meetings do, with Outlook* chief editor Vinod Mehta not taking the names of the accused (because the matter is now in court and also because “my wife told me to be careful”) and striking the right balance of common sense and pragmatism, two commodities that have generally been in short supply.

“I keep hearing that this issue is sensitive and complicated, that it is not a black and white issue. I can’t understand what is so complex here. It doesn’t require an Albert Einstein or a rocket scientist.

“If you are talking to a hotel PRO and he tells you, ‘our hotel is the no.1 hotel in Asia’, it doesn’t mean you come and write that his hotel is the no.1 hotel in Asia. You check and verify before you report.

“The claim that they [Barkha and Vir] were stringing along their sources is complete bullshit. Do you think somebody like Radia would keep on giving information knowing that her instructions weren’t being followed?”

Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, who took the mike next, rightly spoke of the dichotomous times we live in—when the media which has been behind some of the most impactful stories this year stands accused in the public eye of betraying their trust, a point he had made in his HT column earlier in the day.

Sardesai’s sage wisdom would have earned a few plaudits had he stopped right there.

But, as the cameras rolled, he launched into what seemed like a set piece, enlightening the captive audience comprising largely of journalists of his “problems” with the Outlook* expose—not contacting Barkha and Vir and giving them a chance to reply; running raw footage on the website (which also incidentally features his name a couple of times); the use of pictures of journalists not connected with the 2G scam on the cover and so on.

“This is shock and awe journalism… This is bad journalism inverting the principles of basic journalism…. This rot is not new, it has been around for three decades…. In this competitive age, access is information….”

“There is no proven quid pro quo…. The concerned journalists are guilty of professional misjudgement not professional misconduct… Reputations have been damaged…,” said Sardesai in a thinly disguised defence of his former NDTV colleague Barkha Dutt.

“I think what Outlook and Open have done is completely unethical…. A lot of criticism, let us admit, is also because of a certain envy.”

Hardly had Sardesai placed the mike on the table than Poornima Joshi of Mail Today was on her belligerent feet, urging him to spare the audience his pontification.

“I find it absolutely disturbing and disheartening that the president of editors’ guild is not only condoning but also justifying carrying of messages from a corporate to Congress,” Joshi, a former Outlook staffer, said.

Radhika Ramaseshan of The Telegraph [where Sardesai worked before he joined NDTV], took objection to Sardesai’s claim that this was all old hat, that there was nothing new in what was happening, that this has been happening, so why bother.

Neena Vyas [of The Hindu] has been covering BJP for 30 years. Nobody ever accused her of misusing her access. Likewise, there are a number of journalists who have never succumbed,” she said to applause.

Vyas, daughter of former Times of India editor Sham Lal, contradicted Sardesai in his face of  a statement he attributed to her of a BJP politician’s tacit condition that he would go soft on him in exchange for information.

When Vyas regaled the audience of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi “blackmailing” BJP bosses to throw RSS leader Sanjay Joshi out—after a sting operation of Joshi in a sexual act was shown on India TV (which Vyas alleged was owned by Narendra Modi),—CNN-IBN cameras telecast her allegation “live”.

“If Rajdeep Sardesai is so concerned about the raw footage of the Radia conversations being shown or reported, without giving the other side the chance to reply, how come he is showing this,” hissed a member of the audience audibly.

Vidya Subrahmaniam, also of The Hindu, contested Sardesai’s claim that there was no quid pro quo. The tapes, she said, carried enough evidence of quid pro quo since the journalists appeared to be doing exactly what they promised.

From that point on, it was downhill at top speed all the way for Sardesai, in front of several of his senior colleagues, including Bhupendra Chaubey, Vivian Fernandes and Ashutosh who had assembled in the front rows for what they had presumed would be a champagne show by their boss.

# One unidentified voice from the back rows asked, “How can you hold forth on ethics after CNN-IBN’s dubious role in the infamous cash-for-votes scandal [when it reportedly went back on a promise to telecast a sting operation commissioned by the BJP during the vote on the civilian nuclear bill].”

# Another demanded mandatory declaration of assets and liabilities by editors. “How do journalists manage to become owners of channels,” shouted the young voice, echoing former Hindustan Times‘ editor and Prasar Bharati chief Mrinal Pande‘s call for greater transparency in ownership.

# “Amitabh Bachchan read the news on your channel when he was trying to promote his film Rann, without CNN-IBN ever revealing that it was a promo for his film. You should have just said no, if you want to take the high moral ground on ethics,” said Akshay Mukul of The Times of India.

The restive audience wanted more time to question Sardesai but he beat a hasty exit before the meeting ended, citing lack of time and a prior engagement. And as he left, another voice shouted, within earshot of his wife Sagarika Ghose, “Did we just hear the president of the editors guild of India, or the editors’ guilt of India?”

Inside, at the bar, as the old residents reassembled, a young reporter chipped in: “Twitter and Facebook and all the social media have been delivering a simple message to old media in India: look within. Looks like someone’s just too happy listening to his own loud voice.”

Also read: Rajdeep Sardesai heckled over defending Vir, Barkha

The Hindu coverage of the Editors’ Guild debate

The New Indian Express: Heated debate

HT strips Vir Sanghvi of editorial advisory role

3 December 2010

Have the Niira Radia tapes claimed their first journalistic victim?

Last Sunday, columnist and anchor Vir Sanghvi announced that his weekly ‘Counterpoint’ point in the Hindustan Times would be taking a breather. Today, Archna Shukla of the Indian Express reports that his designation as “Advisory Editorial Director, HT Media” has been changed to “Advisor, HT Media”.

However, as if to underline the old adage that we should never believe anything until it is officially denied, the CEO of HT Media, Rajiv Verma has clarified that the redesignation had nothing to do with the recent controversy. Sanghvi too claims that the move was decided upon 4-5 months ago.

On his Twitter account, Sanghvi, currently in Bangkok, has posted a link to his latest food piece: The magic of the Snickers bar and the old Cadbury slabs.

Facsimile: courtesy The Indian Express

86% feel let down by ‘CD baat’ of top journalists

30 November 2010

Impact, the marketing journal from the exchange4media group, has conducted a five-city poll on the mood of the nation after the Niira Radia tapes stung Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Prabhu Chawla and eight other media stars. And the results are revealing.

# 86% of respondents feel let down by the thought of journalists as “fixers”. That feeling is palpably higher in Madras (95%) and Calcutta (92%) but Bangalore (73%) seems to be the most pragmatic of the five cities.

# 66% say media is protecting its own, although 43% think so in Madras, where the 2G scam is headquartered more or less (A. Raja, Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran, M. Karunanidhi) and where the only coverage in The Hindu has been by way of comment.

The poll has been conducted by Synovate, but the sample size or the dates of the poll is not known.

Anurag Batra, the chairman and editor-in-chief of exchange4media, clearly has an opinion different from the 86% per cent. Batra who recently called this “the golden era of Indian media”—despite paid news, private treaties, medianet, etc—writes in his latest column:

“What disturbs me of late is the way different media have taken on each other, trying to reduce journalism into a sham and journalists into a caricature! My sense and submission is that some vested interests are trying to paint journalists and journalism as negative and tainted and I believe these vested interests are being fulfilled even if unknowingly by the media itself! Raising questions basis this episode on other senior journalists is like a self goal for the whole media community. It’s sad to see that when the whole nation should be questioning the government about squandering of so much money belonging to the tax payer, we have forgotten all that and focusing on what few people from media did.”

Read the full survey: What does the nation think?

Also read: If you trust polls, trust in media dips

How much do readers distrust us? Not much

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