Daily Archives: 5 May 2007

‘You can’t be a bad person but a good journalist’

KRISHNA VATTAM, the veteran Deccan Herald and Praja Vani journalist, currently the editor-in-chief of Praja Nudi and The Mysore Mail, was felicitated in Mysore on Saturday, upon his turning 75.

Several wise words were uttered. The novelist S.L. Bhyrappa spoke of Vattam’s self-effacing nature, his daivabhakti, his measured use of the language, his spiritual side, his ekantha priyathe.

There can be no professional ethics without personal ethics. There cannot be a bad person but good doctor; you can’t be a bad person but a good officer; you can’t be a bad person but a good lawyer. Likewise, you cannot be a bad person but a good journalist. Vattam is a good journalist and a good person; his life is a lesson in personal ethics, Bhyrappa said.

B.K. Chandrashekhar, the chairman of the Legislative Council, spoke of Vattam’s his visits to the library, and the early influence Vattam and his family on his life—Vattam’s mother, it was later revealed by Vattam’s wife, Kamala, had wished Chandrashekhar well when he was leaving for Oxford but counselled him against marrying a foreigner.

Does it make sense to make ethical demands of journalists in this day and age? By necessity, the profession requires you to rake muck, pry open doors, listen in to conversations, set one person against the other, intrude into people’s lives. Can we expect journalists to do all that and yet be good people? Can journalists be far removed from the society they inhabit?

The anecdotes flowed as Kamala Vattam held forth. Messages were read out from far and near. Vattam’s journalist-son Shyam Sundar was capturing the event on film; daughter-in-law Shantala rendered the welcome song; grand-daughter Lakshmi Bharadwaj read out a ditty to ‘taathi‘ as she calls her grandfather.

(In this YouTube video, Krishna Vattam says thank-you, in Kannada, to his townsmen and his compatriots)


The geniuses go where others fear to tread

Spoofs of journalists at work, especially TV journalists at work, with their dramatic delivery style, exaggerated sense of self-importance, facial mannerism, and, god, the piece to camera, are all very hilarious, especially if you are not a TV journalist at work. And this YouTube videoblog of the Curious Probe by The Geniuses—“A hard-hitting investigative news program that goes where others fear to probe: gangs—showcases all that and more.

Catch her if you can: Mexico’s most wanted

Given the surfeit of media material on the United States and the United Kingdom, it is easy to believe that they are the only two countries doing journalism; that all the heroes come from there. Not so, not so. Hundreds of journalists are breaking their backs in the most trying circumstances, in Asia, Africa and South America.

Mother Jones has a story on Lydia Cacho who has made some powerful enemies by exposing Cancun’s sex tourism industry in her 2005 book, Demons of Eden. Eight months after the book appeared, Cacho was arrested by police, driven to a beachfront pier and told to jump.

Fortunately, Cacho is savvy and well connected, and a flurry of urgent faxes to the government and human-rights groups was sent just in time to save her. The police backed down, and after being held in jail for half a day, Cacho was released unharmed. Cacho is now suing the State government of Puebla for failing to protect her civil liberties.

Read the full article here: Mexico’s most wanted journalist

Photo courtesy: Mother Jones