Thursday, April 28, 2011

INDIAN MEDIA: A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE

B.RAMAN

The initial draft of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament, chaired by Dr.Murali Manohar Joshi, on the 2G scam and matters relating to it has not yet been considered and adopted by the PAC. Only when it is so adopted after discussion in the Committee will it become the findings or conclusions of the PAC. Till then, it will remain a draft prepared by the staff of the PAC for consideration by the PAC as a whole.

2. It will be inappropriate to comment one way or the other on the draft. One has to observe restraint till the final report as approved by the PAC is released to the public after it has been cleared for release by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

3. In the meanwhile, sections of the media---print as well as electronic---have managed to get hold of the initial draft and have given wide publicity to it. It is up to them to decide in this matter. The purpose of this article is to draw the attention of responsible sections of the Indian media not only to the continuing attempts of Arnab Goswami of the Times Now news channel to exploit certain observations in the initial draft on the role of some journalists who were in touch with Niiru Radia, the professional lobbyist, to carry on what appears to be a campaign against Barkha Dutt, the highly-reputed journalist of the NDTV’s news channel , but also to the current controversy in “The Hindu” group of Chennai which, in my view, has a bearing on ethics in journalism.

4. This campaign has been going on for some time since December last year. The professional jealousy of some journalists has been compounded by a vicious campaign being carried on against her and her channel by small sections of Hindutva groups, which are strongly opposed to her views on Shri Narendra Modi, the Chie Minister of Gujarat, Kashmir, terrorism and India’s relations with Pakistan.

5. As one could see from the beginning of this campaign in December last, Barkha as well as her channel have been maintaining a dignified silence on this issue in adherence to certain core values to which they are attached and have scrupulously avoided any resort to any campaign which could degenerate into mutual mud-slinging.

6. Uninfluenced by this restraint, the Times Now has maintained its subtle, but vicious campaign against Barkha that ought to be deplored by all right-thinking people who are attached to restraint in behaviour.

7.This viciousness in projection has been accompanied by a disturbing silence by many senior journalists on allegations regarding the contacts of Radia with senior journalists of the Times Now channel and other media houses--- these contacts were allegedly not of an innocent nature--- and on the controversy now going on in “The Hindu” regarding certain allegedly objectionable features of the management and editorship of N.Ram, its Editor-in-Chief. These features have been brought to light by N.Ravi, the Editor of “The Hindu” and a relative of N.Ram, in two letters ---one addressed to the staff and the other to Ram---both of which are available in the professional web site devoted to journalists at www.thehoot.org. The latest of the letters of Ravi addressed to Ram is annexed.

8. Ram was in the forefront of the senior journalists who initially spearheaded the campaign against Barkha and even wondered why she had not been removed from her post by her channel. The blatant double standards of Ram in matters relating to journalistic propriety have been exposed by the controversy concerning him.

9. One would have expected that the allegations regarding the role of certain journalists, including a senior journalist of the Times Now channel, in maintaining contacts with Radia and regarding the objectionable features of Ram’s management and editorship would have received the scrutiny they called for in order to ascertain the truth. Instead, they have been pushed under the carpet and there is a deafening silence on these allegations from the senior members of the journalists’ fraternity.

10. This conspiracy of silence regarding the hypocrisy and double standards prevalent in our journalistic community should be a matter of concern to all right-thinking persons who believe in fair-play. I hold no brief for Barkha. She is quite capable of defending herself. At the same time I do feel I will not be worth my salt and will be guilty of cowardice if I keep quiet in the face of what seems to me to be a vicious campaign against her because she outshines many in our TV world. Throughout my life, I have taken the lead in supporting talented people and encouraging them. No one can deny that she is one of our highly talented TV professionals. ( 28-4-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

ANNEXURE

N.Ravi’s rejoinder to N.Ram's defence of The Hindu's coverage of the 2G scam, and the denial of a quid pro quo. (http://www.thehoot.org/web/home/story.php?storyid=5260&mod=1&pg=1§ionId=1&valid=true )

Dear Ram,
The Hindu of April 23, 2011 carried on Page 15 of the Chennai edition your refutation of a report that was not carried in The Hindu. Fairness demands that you publish my account of the issue of the coverage of A. Raja relating to the Telecom licences and 2G spectrum allocation that is given below:

At the meeting of the Board of directors of Kasturi and Sons in January, I had specifically raised the issue of the biased coverage of the 2G spectrum scandal. While Raja was in office, even as evidence was mounting and there were widespread calls for his resignation, The Hindu did not demand his resignation. On the other hand, it functioned as an apologist for Raja and even on the day of his resignation carried an interview with him on the front page, with the transcript published inside. In this interview as well as the one on May 22, 2010, there were no hard questions but only the obvious ones designed to elicit ready, scripted answers. The entire coverage up to the point of his resignation was tailored to make him look good.

This unexplained softness towards Raja contrasted sharply with the coverage and editorial stand on other scams including those relating to the Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Society and land allotment in Karnataka. In those instances, The Hindu was quick to demand the resignations of Suresh Kalmadi, Ashok Chavan and Yeddyurappa even at a stage when the evidence was far less compelling than the material that was in the public domain on the 2G scam before Raja resigned. All the editorial outrage was reserved for the period after Raja’s resignation.

With regard to the advertisement that was published in The Hindu of May 22, 2010 along with his interview on the front page with the full transcript inside, records in the Central Government, particularly in the Ministry of Telecommunications relating to the clearance of this particular advertisement and of some others would go to establish by whom and how this advertisement was cleared. Of all the newspapers that are said to have carried the advertisement, only The Hindu published a friendly interview and not the others. People in the media are aware that promotional advertisements of this type unrelated to any occasion or to any specific announcements are issued as much as rewards to the media as for publicity for the Minister. The Minister’s intention to hugely reward The Hindu that had been so friendly to him in its coverage was obvious. Publication in other newspapers was just a cover, it would have been untenable for any Ministry to have issued an advertisement to just one newspaper.

Yours sincerely,

Ravi

15 comments:

shaila said...

The allegation against Barkha Dutt was never about the 2G Scam .It was about lobbying, She had said "Tell me what should I tell them?" clearly showing she was like Radia a conduit between the Congress and DMK, This has nothing to do with her views on Modi, Kashmir or Pakistan. NDTV steadily losing market share and this is nothing but personal jealousy on part of NDTV to counter times now; It is time for NDTV to introspect where is it going wrong? why it has lost TRP's ? why it is making such huge losses? ;Infact this is an attempt by Barka Dutt to malign a channel who is beating them black and blue in the TRP race.On Navika's convo with Radia; this is nothing new ; the tapes are on outlook's web site; dont think anyone is maintaining a conspiracy of silence; the allegation against BDutt was of professional lobbying;and raised larger questions of journalistic integrity;

Wanderer said...
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InvestmentYogi said...
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shaan said...

Why should you take sides in a civil war in the media? It is good that Indian media is having an internal rift. Now everyone will want to expose the wrongdoings of the other which is good for the country. With all due respect, I believe you are showing too much concerns for one side which I believe is totally unjustified.

chatterbox unplugged said...

Times Now is a channel where each and everyone is always shouting and nothing coherent emerges out of any discussion. switching on the channel for 2 minutes gives me a royal headache.

The hypocrisy of Times and N.Ram is appalling to say the least.

and Times Now getting higher TRP prives nothing except that it can only generate masala news. After all more people watch K-serials than Discovery channel. That is hardly a measure of quality!

ambi said...

tayyar rahna bhai log, bahoot wickets girne wali hain. from babus to poiticians to journos to business tycoons to our honest pm to the true patriot madamji. oh shit i cant even imagine whats gonna happen.

more or less our honest pm's fate is sealed now. madamji usko latkane wali hain. ha ha ha! once he comes out of pm office lagta hain unka budhapa to ab inquiry comm ko jawab dete dete he gujrega. even narsimha rao ll consider himself lucky.

bhayya, hum se to yeah sab dekha nahinjayega. majboot lagne wale hain!! hey maalik ab jab hamari congress doob jayegi to nusalmano ko shaitaan hinduon se kaun bachayega mai baap. ab to pronoy roy ka bhi sahara nahin raha.

Charakan said...

First I thought this post was a guest post by Barkha Dutt!!!
NDTV is brought down by its 'Official Congress Channel' like news coverage. Though it is less sensationalist than Times Now its bias is too much so that it lost all its credibility. Barkha Dutt was a Plus point for NDTV before,but now her attitudes both on TV nad twitter is bringing more harm to it.
The 'muck' that is coming out of The Hindu is part of its ownership fight and has to be judged in that light.

Roshy said...

Barkha Dutt lost her credibility a journalist without credibility is making NDTV bleed. I was a person following her for the past ten years, her observations help me to do an analysis on political issues. First I had a difference of opinion when she sued a blogger on an article, it was pure arrogance from her part. Then lobbying for political parties. When she make observations on political issues I doubt her intentions, as achannel I prefer cnnibn or timesnow more than NDTV . Till Barkha Dutt is working NDTV cannot claim independent journalism
It's not conspiracy, it's the right of a viewer or reader, she is the one who didn't follow ethics when lobbying for A.Raja

who stole my pie said...

Mr.Raman, I quite respect and appreciate your strategic views on China affairs. I am not able to extend the same admiration to your articles on Ms.Barkha Dutt, which seems very akin to a campaign on her behalf. Ms.Dutt has a lot to explain and account for her seeming proximity to the Congress party and in her misadventures in exploiting that relationship. In the opportunity given to her by NDTV she was shooting the messenger in Mr.Manu Joseph rather than clearly articulating her position on the charge of nexus with Congress politicians. In the meagre opportunity provided to Mr.Joseph, he clearly put Ms.Dutt in the mat and she resorted to Verbal diarrhea and abuse rather than acquitting herself of the charges credibly. In the view of the majority, she is not absolved, however much you may be championing on her behalf.

Ideopreneur said...

Dear Sir,

I have no idea why you should be wasting so much of your time defending a journalist who has lost credibility among people. There may be motives behind attacks on her now but it does not absolve the journalist from her association with people like Niira Radia.

I am sure with your intel background of so many years, you can figure out that much. The conversations that came out are not the only proof of her relations with Radia. There is more dope floating around.

And its not just about the lady journalist. The tapes of her male counterpart who has a channel of his own now is also doing the rounds.

Leave the Indian media on its own. Good things will come out of it after the turmoil. Let all those who were intoxicated by power be exposed.

Would request you to concentrate on the Indian strategic affairs. We need your expertise there.

Regards,

CT

AJ said...

Barkha dutt was caught lobbying which is bad journalism and other journalists mentioned in the CBI report do not seem to be doing that.

AJ said...

And even Barkha's past is not good.Criticized by a former navy chief ,criticized by supreme court on BMW hit and run case,26/11 coverage and now radia tapes.She should look in her own backyard before commenting on other journalists.

Esoteric said...

Here are some questions and comments..

Pt 1-3.

Were the facts as noted in the draft disputed by Congress in the PAC? Was the criticism of draft based on individual free will or just party diktat? How can all 11 members from Cong,SP,BSP agree on rejecting the draft? Are they not Indians?...(I cant think of even 2 random Indians who agree on anything remotely contentious...lol)

Its well known that PMO tried to stop Raja and was rebuffed from within/out(...and justified by PM as coalition dharma).Leakage of the report by the media is justified by the delaying tactics adopted by Congress.Ends justify the means.

The campaign is only against corruption,Dutt is collateral damage.While,I agree full transparency from TimesNow is required wrt Radia tapes.But Radia is a side show in the draft and Dutt even a smaller part of it...so why worry about what Arnab talks about or not?

"against her and her channel by small sections of Hindutva groups, which are strongly opposed to her views on Shri Narendra Modi, the CM of Gujarat, Kashmir, terrorism and India’s relations with Pakistan"..

Seems to me that Dutts views on these issues define whether you consider her talented or not.

Pt 4+..Problem lies in the UPA response.Inertia displayed is symptomatic of the coalition of vested interests called 'Congress'.It reacts instead of acting.It reacts defensively and its main arguement is to point fingers at others and paint others as equally bad or worse...such that Congress becomes the 'TINA' alternative.Tactics are to delay and deny.

Unfortunately for Congress and fortunately for India,it wont work.Im sure the lot of them will see the back of the jail sooner than end 2012 that I thought earliar...

I must add that the delay and denial only infuriates UPA detractors and TimesNow's double standards seem like a trifling to be ignored...all thats required is to get UPA out and all the corrupt in jail quickly.Period.

Tarun said...

Dear Sir, As you are an intelligence expert, you may be privy to some facts, which are not in public domain, but as for a normal person like me or others reading this blog, you seem to be defending Barkha.tOt was Barkha, who is caught lobbying, not Arnab or N Ram. I like both their channels, but only for the good work they do, and the pressure they create on alleged offenders, and you'll have to agree that Arnab is better than the 2 on this.

kl said...

Dear Mr. Raman

You seem to be favorably disposed towards Barkha and prejudiced against Arnab. People are more concerned about the social causes highlighted by the Channels rather than the personal qualities of their editors. Fact is that its only Arnab & Times Now who are exposing scams after scams and highlighting the corruption of Congress in particular and others in general. By his fiery approach he is in a way reflecting the mood of the nation and giving vent to the peoples’ anger. You may call it sensationalism, let it be. If majority people appreciate Arnab and criticize Barkha there must be some reason for it. You criticize Arnab that he suffers from prejudices, if he is prejudiced against corruption, corrupt people & people who are prepared to sacrifice the national interest, let him be. We have no problem with that.

Rgds
Kushal