Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I am reproducing below an E-mail received by me from an overseas Indian on my defence of Barkha Dutt, the TV personality--B.RAMAN:

Am an avid reader of your blog and have learnt a lot from your objective and balanced analysis of events and news in different spheres of life. I am inspired by your fight against your medical condition and wish you a long and happy life. I try to be balanced and objective in all my analysis, a trait which your writing has taught me. However, I do have some points which you may want to consider regarding your support of Barkha Dutt and some suggestions.

1. I totally understand your vocal support for her. You truly believe she is innocent and in these difficult times, your conscience orders you to support her in her time of need. I respect you for that resolve. I notice that despite several intimidations and abuses, you have steadfastly maintained your support to her through twitter and your blog. But, I must also request you not to ignore the judgment and thinking ability of the ordinary man/woman on the street, many of whom feel that journalists and editors often make themselves available as “pawns” in a game of political chess. While I respect your decision to support Barkha, I come out with the impression that you have trivialized and disregarded the feedback you received from many of your readers. Some of the feedback deserves to be treated with contempt for the sheer lack of sensitivity and objectivity, but surely not all feedback is worthy of ignorance.

2. The events which come to light as a result of the Radia leaks (allow me to call it that) have raised some serious issues regarding integrity and independence of media houses. While this may not be anything new, the extent to which media houses allow themselves to be used in the process of political vilification and lobbying by commercial interests have reached a nadir. One example of it is the recent instances of members of India Against Corruption, including Anna Hazare’s, reputation being held questionable by many media houses. The motives behind this are clear to some, but either willingly or unwillingly many media houses have allowed themselves to be used as an instrument of political strategy. In the process, they have lost credibility in the eyes of the viewer/reader (certainly myself).

3. Most news articles one reads in newspapers or on television are short on objective and dispassionate analysis of events. This could be a result of the intense competition among media houses for bringing the news first to the reader. I would submit that this “we brought it first” syndrome is effecting a serious compromise in the process of news collection, editing, analysis and publishing. Media Houses need to introspect regarding the “speed v/s quality v/s objective analysis” factors in news publishing/broadcasting. Adding to this is the scarcity of talent (maybe perceived) in journalism, people who have a mind of their own and are able to analyze the information received/fed/discovered by them and communicate that without any prejudices.

4. Finally regarding Barkha Dutt, I feel she could be a victim of circumstances of point no 2&3 above. Having made a bonafide mistake in judgment through her conduct with Radia, I think the best repentance would be through her actions. No amount of support from you or anyone else, is likely to absolve her or any of her colleagues implicated in the leaks of the mistake they committed. The only way to resurrect her reputation is to again work her way up with unbiased reporting and analysis of events. In that pursuit she has to dig into her own conscience and dispassionately and critically evaluate and weed out her biases (which come out strongly on some issues) and demonstrate her ability all over again. Building a reputation takes several years, but ruining that takes only a small error of judgment. My own view is that we should allow a mistake made by Barkha (we all make small and big mistakes) and accept her explanation and apology at face value. But I sincerely hope she sheds her biases which clouds her thinking when she evaluates events or people, particularly in the political space.

Again, I wish you a very long life and please continue to write. We are all eagerly awaiting your next blog.

1 comment:

Esoteric said...

Barkha has great bosses,who have backed her despite the allegations.At its core,Good Journalism is a science..a search for truth without blinkers,biases or ulterior motives and 'above suspicion'.

As a viewer,its difficult not to question Roy's ethical standards in not taking stricter action.At the end of the day,guilty or not She is within her rights to deny the charges...its not her call(if the allegations are true then she doesnt suffer from a conscience!)

At the same time there are more powerful people with more sinister allegations and deeds to answer for...and who refuse to resign.So if a toxic journo stays on and irritates a few million TV viewers,it just shows that the buck doesnt stop, with her with NDTV it does.