Tag Archives: Niira Radia

Radiagate part-II: Time to come to the point

From no news to national debate Radiatapes have come a long way in three weeks.

Braving an almost entire media blackout the first time around and generating hi octane sentiments with the media fraternity when Open Magazine took the lid off the Pandora’s box revealing select conversations between lobbyist Niira Radia and some journalists, the tapes managed to stir a national debate when Outlook magazine managed to do a desi Wikileaks second time around.

Outlook managed to add 800 tape conversations to Radiagate episode I inturn widening the array actors involved, provided enough spice for everyone to fuel their food for thought.

This time around few corporate, politicians were added and thankfully or not no new casualties on the Journalistic front except for couple of reaffirmation. Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi again made their way to Radiagate episode two.

This little breathing space provided enough space for media to beat around the bush, hold debates claim themselves to be the guardians of fourth pillar of democracy and go on calming first to report, whatever it takes.

Headlines like:

Taps unavoidable, but need utmost care: PM

Judge puts ex-CJI in dock over Raja

Was ex-CJI Balakrishnan aware of Raja influencing judge?

Radia tapes hurting India story: HDFC chairman

Corporate concern over phone tapping justified?

Nira Radia’s web: wider than we thought

What about the bigger question, SO WHAT?

We now know this is how the cookie crumbles, what next? Is Radia being charged, any action being taken on those trying to influence policy matters? Have any of the media outlets and editor cum owners cum custodians of truth come and shed light on the bigger issue of ethics?

All the new entrants in the media fray barring Mail Today, The Hindu and Outlook (open almost closed after kick starting the debate) are busy asking corporate India/politicians/ judiciary to look inwards, but what about walking the talk themselves.

Headlines are being blown out of proportions to push the big allegation on the fraternity under the carpet.

We know how politicos function in our country, how businessmen arm twist system for larger gains, but we only heard whispers saying journalism too are corrupt and when this whisper is being reinforced by a strong backing of tapes, time journalists accept where they faltered and try restoring some faith back in people.

High time the media houses adhere to the iconic motto line they boast.

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Time to walk the talk

The Niira Radia tapes interestingly are still being debated. The matter is far from over and marks a new page for me in the way Indian media functions or will function in the days to come.

The blog by Rajdeep Sardesai, editor in chief, CNN-IBN brought the ‘sting stung’ expose involving journalists back to mind.

Sardesai who doubles up as president, Editor’s guild of India, though late in putting his views across on the debate makes few candid points.

I quote few of his points which struck me:

1.       In recent times, the media has lived by the dictum of guilty till proven innocent. Guess the concept of trial by media has now come back to sting the media itself!

2.       At one level, the ethical decline is a consequence of changing market realities?

3.       In a highly competitive news universe, access is the key, a privilege which is often dependent on building personal equations.

4.       When was the last time corporate corruption was exposed with rigour in the media? Most business interviews are soft focus profiles, designed as image-building exercises rather than genuinely inquisitorial.

All valid and ironically dangerous questions concerning the way media market is booming in India.

The questions are for real, but what surprises me is the media apathy to the subject, and whatever has been coming out has largely been acquisitions and counter cleansing exercises or mere pressure cum need based debates.

NDTV ran an hour long unedited show to give a chance to Barkha Dutt to put her point across, CNN IBN too did a shown where the anchor said, the issue has set websites on fire and hence the debate. Vir Sanghvi posted his views in his column and website and few discussions on who is to be questioned and basics not being followed was the end of the issue.

Why are editors not coming forward on a collective forum to address the larger issues? Why when Sardesai says when was the last time corporate corruption was exposed with vigour he does not provides an alternative or a way out? Why the dependence of advertisements and advertorials not being debated? Why is the issue of leading media houses(The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Indian Express to name some) abstaining from the debate not being discussed.

Two very senior editors Dileep Padgaonkar and N. Ram on two different platforms raised similar thoughts. While Padgaonkar on NDTV said: “In my times we would not allow PR guys to come near the editorial section.” Ram on CNN-IBN said, “I don’t believe in the theory of stringing sources to get information.” He added, “Has this been the BBC, the NYT or WSJ, the careers of those involved would have been over.”

I feel the controversy provides a unique opportunity for media as a whole to come together and set the rules straight for the new breed and established lot of journalists to follow.

Time for editors and media organisations to walk the talk.

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Unfair Media Trial

A media trial in the real sense of word is underway in India. Media is under trail, those in question are some of the leading brand names in the world of Indian journalism.

The list of those featured in the infamous tapes in question are Barkha Dutt and Prabhu Chawla, group editors of NDTV and India Today respectively, Vir Sanghvi, editorial director of Hindustan Times, M. K Venu, senior business journalist and the managing editor of Financial Express are there to name some.

While most of the leading dailies and broadcasters have stayed away from publishing (owing to complexities of their names in some way or the other being associated with those who feature in the list) or airing the debate, some magazines and tabloids have kept their focus on the trial.

But there are some inherent similarities in all these none of them dialled these people involved in the tapes for their takes and they were selective.

There are close to over 100 tape conversation according to the Outlook report and have doyens of the industrialist like Ratan Tata featuring in it, but its only two Dutt and Sanghvi who are being portrayed as villains in most reports.

Their responses are nowhere to be quoted making it a one-sided report. Though Outlook is carrying Dutt’s tweets and letters from NDTV and Open magazine on its website, it still misses the simple quote from the duo under spot.

Barkha Dutt tweets: “Question for Mail Today’s so called “campaign.” Why doesnt it mention journalists from its own group who are on the tapes? Convenient.” She raises a valid question, as names of Prabhu Chawla and Shankar Aiyar (then with India Today Group) are also featured.

In the Ratan Tata conversation Radia observes the media has become very greedy and it won’t give someone who advertises heavily bad publicity.

This is a very serious allegation and a harsh reality in some media outlets. The tape scam gives the fraternity to come out clean and ensure that the sanctity of the profession remains intact in public eye.

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