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: firstname.lastname@example.org )
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 )
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.