The 16th week of the year of the lord 2013 has been a gruesome one for Indian journalism in general and Bengali journalism in particular.
In the space of just a few hours every conceivable cliche and charge about modern media folk—that we are corrupt; that we can be bought over; that we have become extortionists; that we have become partners, even abettors, in crime of politicians and corporates; that the interests of the common man and woman is last on our radar; that the media is now a shield for wrong-doing—came true as an 18-page “suicide” note of a chit fund operator became public.
Willy-nilly, Sudipta Sen‘s letter to CBI also revealed how gullible we are, for all the gratuitous advice we dish out on how the world should be run.
In The Telegraph, Calcutta, Sajeda Momin, who covered the Babri masjid demolition for the paper, who returned from London to be the features editor of The Bengal Post, a paper which Sen started with his funny money, recounts the experience:
It was May 2010 when I received a phone call in London from a former Statesman colleague that he was helping launch a new English newspaper in Calcutta and would like me on board. I asked the normal question all journalists ask when it is a new paper: “Who is funding it?”
His reply was very reassuring. He is a Bengali businessman who has a variety of business interests in land, agro-products, travel, etc, and wants to venture into the media.
“Does he have enough money to sustain a newspaper?” was my next question as we know that keeping a daily newspaper going is a costly business with no hope of seeing any returns for a few years.
““Oh yes, he has mines in Australia, land and business interests in West Bengal and Odisha, and is looking to expand in the Northeast and has promised that he has enough money put aside to run the newspaper for the next five years,” came the reply. So I took the plunge and landed in Calcutta the following month.
Apart from Ranabir Raychoudhury, the editor of The Bengal Post, as the English paper was to be called, none among the editorial staff had met this elusive Mr Sen. Ironically, even friends in the business community knew very little about Sudipta Sen and his companies, despite his having so much money that he could fund not one but two newspapers.”