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
Battered by one and all but one, Barkha Dutt, the NDTV anchor caught on tape in l’affaire Niira Radia, gets some much-needed support, but from the dirty old man of Indian journalism, her Hindustan Times co-columnist Khushwant Singh.
But unlike the editors guild president Rajdeep Sardesai who blamed it on “envy”, Singh attributes it to “malice”:
“Two leading lights in Indian journalism, one in the print media, the other a top TV star who has the widest viewership and is known for her guts and integrity, are being maligned for listening to a woman in public relations representing some big industrial houses.
“I went through all that passed between them on telephones but failed to figure out anything unethical in their dialogue. The public relations lady pleaded the cause of the firms that she was representing. The journalist heard what she had to say as every good journalist is expected to do and make his own assessment before he wrote on the subject.
“The lady in India’s leading channel was asked to do sifarish (recommend) on behalf of an ambitious politician. The story sounds totally fatuous: a sifarish by a mediaperson carries no weight whatsoever. What the libelers and slanderers have to prove is that money was given to the two for doing their bidding. There is not even a remote suggestion that this was so. It was done out of pure malice to tar the images of two much respected mediapersons. “
Illustration: courtesy Sorit Gupto/ Outlook
Read the full column: Ethics of journalism