At last the debate on the ‘Journogate’ (popularly being called Barkhagate) has begun to gain some momentum in India.
Ever since the tapes involving some leading names in Indian journalism in debatable conversation with a high-profile public relation executive Niira Radia have been made public by two news magazines, some platforms have started discussion.
The credit to this late yet timely development goes to the bloggers and social networking sites where the issue is a hot debate.
Journalist Karan Thapar who debated the issue on The Last Word a prime time news debate show on CNN IBN started saying that the topic ‘has set the websites aflame’ despite the issue being ignored by media houses.
The debate for me was a step forward, but it added a few more questions to the already complex scenario.
Panelists debated that why did those involved in the tapes not report that a publicist for the leading business houses (Tata and Mukesh Ambani) with Tata’s having a sizeable presence in telecom sector was acting as a power broker for DMK.
It also justified the stand of Open Magazine and Outlook to go ahead with the story sans versions of those involved. N. Ram, editor, The Hindu said: “it’s a part of journalistic practise, did we (journalists) asked Vin Chadda before publishing the Bofors expose?”
What was missing from the engaging session was that neither Barkha Dutt nor Vir Sanghvi participated despite being called for the show. This was predictable.
However both have tweeted and posted their explanations for one last time to set the record straight. Dutt has published her argument on NDTV website giving links to the stories that she did against A Raja and Sanghvi too after putting a letter last week on his website has explained his stance in his weekly column Counterpoint, which appears in Hindustan Times on Sundays.
Interestingly, Sanghvi has made it clear that battered by the allegations he will discontinue his column in for the time being.
He writes on his website and I quote “I have no desire to subject counterpoint to this filth. It deserves better. So, Counterpoint will be taking a break. When life returns to normal, so will counterpoint.”
It seems the controversy has hit hard.
The debate was also discussed at Foundation for Media Professionals, in New Delhi.
Some question the debate arises are firstly is it alright to go ahead with an expose despite the tapes not being officially and secondly is it fine to go ahead without securing the views of those questioned?
While Ram answered the latter for the first I feel if something is there for a larger public interest the journalists are well within their rights to bring it out.
Will this bloodletting improve journalism standards in India? The question looms large over the fraternity.
I would quote N.Ram from the CNN IBN debate that had this happened at the BBC, the New York Times or the Financial Times, such behaviour would not have been tolerated and the career would have been over.
Will the media houses come clean on this issue is a big question for future of Journalism in India?